A scene from Heat

by JASON | 11:40 AM in |

"We've certainly seen a rise in bank robberies across the country particularly in our metropolitan areas. The bank robbery rate has risen dramatically," FBI Special Agent Scott Wilson said.

"They're very desperate folks that rob banks and we see this quite often where the desperation over comes them and they rob a bank," he said.

Special Agent Wilson said another alarming statistic new this year is that in more bank robberies than ever the suspects are using weapons.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly met with bank officials Wednesday to discuss ways in which robberies can be prevented. The effort comes after the city reported a significant spike in bank robbery numbers in 2008. The NYPD said there were 444 bank robberies last year, a 57 percent increase from 2007.

Bank robberies are up in cities across the USA this year and, although the reason is unclear, the down economy is a suspect.

"The economy is driving some of this," says Chris Swecker, chief security officer for Bank of America and former assistant director of the FBI's criminal division. "We're even getting some anecdotal stuff from bank robbers."

Swecker said Bank of America analysts study the interplay between the increase in bank heists and foreclosures, credit defaults and unemployment rates.

"We haven't drawn any conclusions yet, but we are certainly looking at it," he said.

The Los Angeles metro area has had 189 bank robberies this year, compared with 156 at the same time last year, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

Thirty representatives from more than a dozen banks attended a meeting convened by New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly at Police Headquarters to address measures bank security should take to protect against robberies in their institutions’ branches in the five boroughs. The meeting follows a 57% increase in bank robberies occurring in 2008 compared with 2007. Deputy Inspector Charles Neacy of the NYPD Detective Bureau Major Case Squad provided attendees with an analysis of robbery data, along with best practices recommended by the NYPD and endorsed by the New York Bankers Association.

There were 444 bank robberies in 2008 citywide, compared with 283 in 2007.

The robbery is the latest in a series of bank robberies plaguing the Pocono area. The robberies have been different in their modus operandi and are unrelated. One suspect has been arrested in a previous failed bank robbery attempt in Sciota, Pennsylvania, just outside of the Stroudsburgs.

Last week San Diego experienced an unprecedented three major take-over style bank robberies in one day. In the past two weeks there have been an astounding number of kidnapping bank employees and their families for vault ransom, the type of bank robbery we were victims of, and today bank robberies in New York came in a wave of five in a short period of time and relatively short distance. These are all signs of economical times that bring desperation to a very high and unmanageable level.

MONROE, Wash. – In a move that could be right out of a Hollywood movie, a brazen crook apparently used a Craigslist ad to hire a dozen unsuspecting decoys to help him make his getaway following a robbery outside a bank on Tuesday. He then made his escape in an inner tube on the Skykomish River.

The robbery happened about 11 a.m. on an armored truck guard at a Bank of America branch.

Three men in ski masks with assault rifles at their sides pulled off a highly choreographed armored-truck heist late Thursday morning and exchanged gunfire with a security guard outside a bank in the bustling Riverbend neighborhood.

The holdup was strictly a professional affair, authorities said. The robbery crew, dressed in dark clothing, carried guns fit for warfare. They had arranged for one car to block traffic while another vehicle arrived at the bank. The getaway car was blocks away. By Thursday night, they were still being sought, police said.