FBI seeing spike in bank robberies during holidays

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- There appears to be a spike in bank robberies in the St. Louis area.

Just since Thanksgiving there have been at least six.  There were three in a row this past Saturday.

So what is happening?

"A lot of times during this season, it`s the fact that either `I got laid off,` or `I need to feed the family,` or `I need to buy Christmas gifts," said Dean Bryant, Special Agent In Charge of the St. Louis division of the F.B.I.

Whether the season is the reason for the recent string of stickups is hard to say, but according to Bryant, the total number of bank robberies in the St. Louis area is down from 65 cases at this time last year to 50 this year.

Both those totals are below the all-time high of 77 bank robberies in 2002.

"In this past year our solvency rate on bank robberies was a little over 90 percent which is extremely high even for the F.B.I nationally," Bryant said. He attributes the success rate to good cooperation between the F.B.I and local law enforcement. The F.B.I's national average solvency rate is 47 percent.

Criminologist Richard Wright from UMSL says the spike in local robberies could also be the result of our unusually cold weather, leaving desperate people with fewer potential robbery victims out on the streets.

But when it comes to understanding bank robberies, Wright says it's especially difficult to know what is happening.

"It is very hard to interpret what is going on when you have a relatively rare phenomenon because very small changes in the numbers can make huge percentage differences," he said.

And the numbers are expected to continue to drop, in part because of improvements in the quality of security camera pictures, and the increased distribution of them through internet sites like 'Bandit Tracker.'

"They look like they just came from Sears Portrait," Bryant said. "Somebody most likely is going to know the individual in the photo."

http://bandittrackerstlouis.com/

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