Thursday Edition: Why are Bank Robberies Rising?

Who is most likely to die in a bank robbery? FBI statistics show the robber is killed more often than anybody. Branch banks get hit much more often than main banks and the most popular time to rob a bank is on a Tuesday morning.

More bank robberies occur in the South than in any other region. California was the bank robbery capital of the country last year with 915 cases. Nobody else was even close -- Texas was second with 394.

ABC News reports:

Bank robbers hold up at least 23 banks somewhere in the United States every day. The number of bank robberies rose about 5 percent in 2006 -- 7,272 incidents in all.

From three gun-wielding young men robbing a bank in Illinois to a middle-aged man in Texas claiming to be a father who had been just laid off, bank robbery remains one of the most common and troubling crimes facing police.

The story says about 5 percent of bank robberies are pulled off by women, and that they are acting alone more often then they used to.

The story continues:

But whether male or female, across the board, suspects are often robbing out of desperation.

"Out of the people we arrest, about 50 percent have a narcotics use habit," said Kenneth Kaiser, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. "And the other ones may have an alcohol addiction, they may have a gambling addiction, or they may have other financial problems they're trying to resolve," Kaiser continued.

[...] The financial gain isn't always low. Half of the bank robbers don't get caught, and the overwhelming majority of the cash -- more than 80 percent of it -- disappears. "They're spending it as soon they rob the bank," Kaiser explained.

Of $352 million stolen in bank robberies from 2002 to 2006, investigators recovered only $58 million.

Here is a month-by-month gallery of bank robber pictures. I have to ask: Why are so many bank cameras so horrible? My home video camera takes clearer pictures.

The FBI says bank robberies often used to occur on Friday mornings between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. This is probably because of a perception that Friday is payday and banks have more cash on hand. New data show robberies occur most often on Tuesday mornings.


  • Total violations: 7,272, up slightly from 6,957 in 2005.
  • Loot stolen: More than $70 million worth of cash, checks, and other property, with $11.2 million recovered by law enforcement to date
  • Their modus operandi: Firearms were involved 1,855 times; demand notes were used almost 4,000 times.
  • Acts of violence: Were committed in 329, or 4.5%, of the 7,272 violations. Of the 13 total deaths, 10 were the perpetrators. These acts included 91 instances involving the discharge of firearms, 197 instances involving assaults, and 40 instances of hostage situations. (One or more acts of violence may occur during an incident.) These acts of violence resulted in 129 injuries, 13 deaths, and 80 persons being taken hostage.

Armored car robberies are rare (only 378 last year nationwide) but they are lucrative. Robbers grabbed more than $4 million dollars in armed car heists last year. Cops only recovered one and a half million of that.

Popcorn Prices Pop Up 40 Percent

Reuters reports:

US popcorn prices have risen more than 40 percent since 2006 as soaring demand for feed corn to fuel the ethanol boom has spilled over into the favorite snack of American moviegoers.

Companies that purchase popcorn each year, as opposed to larger crops such as corn and soybeans, are confined to choosing among a relatively small number of suppliers. This makes it important for popcorn companies to offer competitive prices and forge good relationships with farmers.

"I think [ethanol is] going to have a uniform effect on all geographical areas that produce popcorn," said Dennis Kunnemann, president of AK Acres Popcorn, which buys, processes, and then sells popcorn to distributors, packagers, and snack-food retailers.

"This year, we've paid the highest price ever that I've contracted for, 13 cents a pound," compared with 9 cents per pound last year, Kunnemann added.

The family-owned company in Imperial, Neb., has passed its cost on to customers by signing new contracts for between 18 and 20 cents a pound, up about 40 percent from 2006.

Banning Aluminum Bats

What better time than the all-star break to raise the question of whether aluminum bats are too dangerous. I have raised the question before on Al's Morning Meeting and now, as NPR reported this week, legislators are stepping in, suggesting that wood, not aluminum be used in Little League.


The Physics of Baseball

Acoustics of Baseball Bats: "Crack" vs. "Ping"

Why do Bikers Like Loud Bikes?

KUSA-TV in Denver reports on some bikers who argue that loud motorcycles are safer.

Are you getting the high speed you paid for?

The Christian Science Monitor
says during some parts of the day, you may not be getting the speed you were promised thanks to something called "bandwidth shaping."

Brain Injuries in High School Football

The National Institutes of Health news site says:

The number of catastrophic head injuries in high school football far exceeds the number of such injuries in college football, a new study finds.

In addition, the number of high school players who receive such head injuries and then play with residual effects is "unacceptably high," according to the report in the July issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Catastrophic brain trauma can include brain bleeding and swelling. While rare, it can result in permanent brain damage, experts warn.

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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