Bank robbery may be the quintessential American crime, immortalized in screaming headlines and Hollywood movies, but it is fading like those grainy old newsreels of Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger.
Bank heists have fallen about as fast as any other crime, dropping almost 60% in the past quarter century, according to FBI statistics. And robbers are getting away with less and less loot, reports the Washington Post.
FBI numbers show the average take has dwindled by nearly half over the past 10 years to just $6,500. That's more like trading in a used VW Jetta than scoring a payday that might fund an extended stay on a tropical island.
When you factor in the FBI's calculation that bank robbers are caught in greater numbers than any other criminals except killers, experts say smart thieves are coming to the conclusion that the risks now outweigh the rewards.
"Bank robbery is now largely a crime of the desperate," said Gerald C. Clark, a former FBI agent and now an assistant professor of criminal justice at Gannon University in Erie, Pa. Today's bank robber is "the person who needs money now or the drug user looking to get that instant high," he said.
Experts said old-fashioned bank robbery is also declining because thieves are finding more-profitable and less-risky ventures. Some are targeting ATMs, and others are turning to cybercrime, committing virtual heists from the comfort of their basements.