WASHINGTON — Bank robberies plunged nearly 20% last year to their lowest point in at least a decade even as Americans grappled with a deep recession and widespread unemployment.
Bankers and investigators had anticipated that the nation’s sputtering economy would set off a new wave of holdups as more people became desperate for money. They now say the combination of sophisticated new tactics — such as tracking fleeing robbers by satellite — appears to have made a significant dent. And that includes even places where the economy has hit the hardest.
“With the economy, we expected an increase,” said Brad Bryant, the head of the FBI’s Violent Crimes and Major Offenders unit, which investigates bank robberies. “But we haven’t seen robberies in which the person’s motive was that he got laid off and needed the money.”