Archive for Monday, August 1, 2011

As investigations of 2 area bank robberies continue, experts warn that robbers face long odds

August 1, 2011

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Lawrence Police investigate the Central National Bank branch at 603 W. Ninth Street, Thursday, July 14, 2011. An armed robbery was reported there earlier in the afternoon.

Lawrence Police investigate the Central National Bank branch at 603 W. Ninth Street, Thursday, July 14, 2011. An armed robbery was reported there earlier in the afternoon.

Bank robberies in the United States since 2003. Statistics courtesy of the FBI.

Bank robberies in the United States since 2003. Statistics courtesy of the FBI.

The number of bank robberies in Kansas since 2003. Statistics courtesy of the FBI.

The number of bank robberies in Kansas since 2003. Statistics courtesy of the FBI.

It’s pretty easy to rob a bank.

You don’t need much of a plan, don’t really need a weapon, probably won’t get much resistance from a bank teller and can get in and out quickly.

Two men — still not captured — followed that formula in two recent bank robberies, one in Lawrence on July 14 and one in Ottawa on July 15.

But here’s the downside for criminals: 99 percent of banks that are robbed have surveillance cameras and alarm systems, some banks give robbers marked bills or exploding dye packs, and they’ll be pursued not only by local authorities, but also the FBI, which investigates such crimes because bank money is federally insured.

Not dissuaded yet?

On average, a bank robbery nets about $7,000, but when you weigh the money against the potential six- to 20-year federal prison sentence, it doesn’t seem like such a great move, said Phil Gay, president of Profit Protection, a firm that trains banks in security.

“It’s a high-risk, low-reward” crime, Gay said.

Criminals seem to be taking note.

Since 2003, bank robberies in the United States have dropped 27 percent, from 7,644 to 5,628 in 2010. In Kansas, bank robberies have fluctuated between 26 and 47 during the same years, with 33 reported in 2010.

While the numbers have dropped, it’s as easy to rob a bank today as ever because security philosophy is rooted in the safety of staff and employees, Gay said. No resistance is made.

“We don’t want to take any risks,” he said. “Money can be replaced.”

So nearly anyone can walk into a bank, demand money, and a teller will hand it over.

That leaves bank security in the hands of deterrence — aided by the stiff prison sentences— and apprehension.

Gay noted all the factors that weigh against a bank robber: surveillance footage and security tactics, such as tracking devices that can be attached to stolen money.

In the Ottawa case, surveillance cameras shot a clear picture of the suspect, and law enforcement obtained a description of the vehicle used as the getaway car, which was later abandoned. The FBI recently released the name of the suspect, Timothy Glen Caskey, also wanted in connection with several other crimes. His last known location was in Texas, and it was possible he was headed to Mexico.

In the Lawrence case, a hat obscured the face of the suspect, and authorities have not released a vehicle description.

Though there have been no arrests yet in either of these two cases, the odds of the robbers eluding capture for long are against them, said Bridget Patton, FBI spokeswoman. Bank robberies boast one of the highest solution rates for all crimes — about 60 percent, according to FBI statistics. In 2011 so far, there have been 20 robberies in Kansas, 13 of which have been solved, Patton said.

The FBI has also been utilizing new options for some of the serial bank robbers that skip across states lines, such as electronic billboards and bank robber websites. The Kansas City field office operates BanditTrackerKansasCity.com, which features information about local cases and ways for the public to submit tips electronically.

The fact that the Lawrence and Ottawa bank robbers escaped capture initially doesn’t necessarily mean their freedom will last for long, Patton said.

“We’re going to keep working it until it’s solved,” she said.

Comments

Bob Forer 3 years, 8 months ago

Hmmm, does the LJW really think that the people who need to be reminded that robbing banks is a high risk, low reward job are the types that read newspapers.

Tristan Moody 3 years, 8 months ago

I dunno, they think that 5628 is 35% less than 7644 when it is in fact 27% less. 7644 is, however 35% more than 5628. Fractions are hard.

pizzapete 3 years, 8 months ago

Yea, that's weird, the guy has the same name, too.

genie220 3 years, 8 months ago

Interesting...I'm finding the same picture on stories regarding the bank robbery and stories for the kidnapping and vehicle theft. Would it occur to anyone to tie the two together and report the entire story. He kidnapped his wife on the 14th, robbed a bank here on the 15th, and stole a truck in Texas on the 16th.

Jonathan Kealing 3 years, 8 months ago

That's correct. We posted a story late last week — Thursday or Friday, I believe — linking the two.

genie220 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes, but I mean the FBI's website. There was no mention of bank robbery here on the crime alert list under his name. Just found that strange. You can find stories regarding both crimes, but hardly any that tie them all together. I would think all the facts would be more helpful to the investigation.

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