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Bank Robberies on the Rise

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 20, 2008 7:07PM

The FBI says that the number of bank robberies in Chicago this year (220 to date) is on pace to surpass 2007 numbers (226), but probably won’t surpass the record number set in 2006 (284). They also reported that the number of robberies has spiked in the last two to three weeks, and the incidents are becoming increasingly dangerous. Apparently, it’s no coincidence that the number of bank robberies is on the rise as the economy is tanking. Crimes like muggings and ATM hold-ups also increase during times of economic strife. The Sun-Times reported Tuesday that police are focusing crime fighting in areas hit hardest by foreclosures. "Abandoned buildings breed crime," police spokeswoman Monique Bond said. Officers in the Troubled Buildings Unit have been identifying abandoned properties, patrolling them to keep gangs, vandals and other criminals out and getting the city involved in dealing with the owners, Bond said.

2008_11_20_robbery.jpgThe most notorious bank robbers were prolific during the Great Depression. The newly-created FBI and its J. Edgar Hoover hunted infamous bank robbers, John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde (pictured right). The banks were wildly unpopular, so the public viewed the robbers more as heroes than enemies. From USA Today ( earlier this month:

The Great Depression left a mark on the world that remains today, nearly 80 years after it began. It re-created our banking system, molded our securities laws, and left scars on the nation's psyche that have faded only modestly with the decades. During the Depression, savers watched their money evaporate in bank failures, because deposits weren't insured. Bankers became so unpopular that bank robbers, such as Bonnie and Clyde, became folk heroes.

The police and media don’t hinder the public’s tendency to glamorize them when they give the robbers fancy “Bandit” nicknames, like the Cadillac Bandit, the Playboy Bandit, the Straw Hat Bandit, or the latest, the Surgeon Bandit. Police recently caught one of these “Bandits,” arresting rapper Bump J in relation to a 2007 robbery. Check out other “wanted” subjects on the Chicago Police website. You have to wonder how long it will be before someone is gunned down on their way out of the Biograph Theater a la Dillinger. If you’re considering putting together a heist yourself, keep in mind that the FBI reports that they solve about 70 percent of bank robberies.

By Samantha Abernethy