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Bank Crime Surges in 4th Quarter 2008, but Down for Year

The amount of bank crimes rose significantly in the last quarter of 2008 but is down overall from the past two years, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“Although this quarter showed a 19.5 percent increase in bank crimes from the third quarter of 2008, this brings the total violations for 2008 to 6,105—down from the 2007 (6,182) and 2006 (7,272) calendar year totals,” said Kenneth W. Kaiser,  assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division.

The report draws a pretty clear picture of how bank thieves operate, everything from what type of crime they choose, how they commit the crime, and even what day they choose most often.

The FBI divides bank crimes into three categories: robberies, burglaries, and larcenies.

Of the 1,645 crimes against financial institutions in the 4th quarter of last year, there were 1,617 robberies, 25 burglaries, and three larcenies.

In the course of their crimes, thieves made off with $15.4 million, an increase of $2.9 million over last quarter. Ninety-three percent of the time, thieves made off with some loot—up a percentage point from the 3rd quarter.

Half the time thieves demanded the money by slipping a note to a bank employee, while about 40 percent of the time robbers threatened the use of a firearm. Criminals, according to the FBI, were armed in about one out of four bank crimes.

Some form of violence accompanied the crime 4 percent of the time. Of the 75 acts of violence, a gun was fired 22 times, an assault happened 37 times, and hostages were taken 15 times.

The risk of death during a bank crime in the fourth quarter rested squarely on the perpetrators. Three robbers were killed during their crimes while no law enforcement officers were slain or injured.

Thieves tended to be either white or black almost equally, while their targets overwhelmingly were bank branch offices. The crimes typically took place in cities, followed next by small towns, the suburbs, and rural areas.

For those wanting to avoid the possibility of being in a financial institution when a bank crime occurs, Friday's are the worst, although Mondays and Wednesdays follow closely behind, respectively.

The time of day really isn't a factor, as the amount of bank crimes are pretty evenly distributed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.