Pubdate: Sat, 27 Mar 2010
Source: Patriot Ledger, The  (Quincy, MA)
Copyright: 2010 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Author: Dennis Tatz
Note: MAP archives articles exactly as published, except that our editors 
may redact the names and addresses of accused persons who have not been 
convicted of a crime, if those named are not otherwise public figures or 


BRAINTREE -- In the early 1930s, the likes of John Dillinger, "Baby
Face" Nelson, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde were holding up
banks with machine guns, killing police and bystanders - and, in the
process, becoming folk heroes to some.

That was when the Great Depression had a stranglehold on the country.
Each week, banks closed by the dozens, while others were putting
people out of their homes.

Whether it's deja vu or coincidence, it appears bank robbers are back.
The South Shore has seen a spike in such robberies: Only this week,
there were five holdups in less than 48 hours at banks in Stoughton,
Rockland, Hanover, Norwell and Milton.

The ailing economy may have played a role in some of the heists.
Still, several law enforcement officials believe the thieves are more
likely drug addicts needing some quick cash.

"When someone has a drug habit, they need to get a fix," FBI
Supervisory Special Agent Randy Jarvis said. "It's a high percentage
of what we are seeing in bank robberies."

Thieves can make off with more money robbing a bank than a gas
station. But the dangers of being caught are also high: Jarvis said
bank robbery is statistically the most difficult crime to pull off
because of surveillance cameras, witnesses and stiff prison sentences.
And, he said, 70 percent of bank robbers are eventually caught.

"We have had some serial bank robbers," he said. "They seem to be a
little bit more organized. There has been an uptick in the violence
factor. They are threatening tellers with firearms."

The FBI's latest statistics for the three-month period from April 1 to
June 30 last year found nearly $9.5 million in cash had been stolen
during 1,278 robberies at banks, savings and loan associations and
credit unions.

In Braintree, where the TD Bank on Granite Street was robbed last
Sunday, Deputy Chief Russell Jenkins said those with substance abuse
problems increasingly have been turning to banks to fund their addictions.

"Without a doubt, we have seen an increase of bank robberies in
Braintree and the region," Jenkins said. "It seems to come in spurts."

Quincy Police Capt. John Dougan said he felt the economy, along with
drug abuse, is also playing a greater role.

"A lot of people are out of work and they have to pay bills," Dougan
said, while adding, "We have also noticed a lot of those we caught are
stealing the money to buy drugs."

On Wednesday, Milton police followed a robber on foot into nearby
Mattapan and found the gray jacket he shed following a hold-up at
Citizens Bank on Adams Street.

The suspect in that theft, 28-year-old [name redacted] of
Dorchester, was arrested Thursday for the robbery and for three house
burglaries during the past three weeks.

"I would say it's drugs," Milton Deputy Chief Charles Paris said.
"Oxycontin is expensive, and then there is heroin. They are looking
for money quickly."

In many cases, the robber will give a teller a note demanding cash and
warn he is armed. The robber, however, does not always show a weapon.

There are exceptions, though, like the man who robbed South Coastal
Bank on Union Street in Rockland and a Sovereign Bank in Norwell the
next day. He pulled up his sweatshirt and showed bank tellers that he
was wearing what looked like explosives strapped to his chest and
threatened to detonate them.

Rockland police arrested [name redacted], 26, at his home at [address 
at about 6 p.m. Thursday. Besides the Rockland and Norwell
thefts, he is also a suspect in bank robberies in Hanover and Abington
and a robbery on Monday of a CVS store in Rockland. In that case, a
man with a knife and a hypodermic needle threatened to stab someone if
he didn't get money.

Financial Institutions Under The Gun

The following facts were gleaned statistics are from  the latest edition of 
the Federal Bu reau of Investigation's bank crime statistics, based on 
incidents na tionwide from April 1, 2009, to June 30, 2009.

FRIDAY MORNING:  What's the most dangerous  time to go to a bank?

Bank robberies occur on Fridays  more than any other day.

Once they decide to act,  robbers apparently prefer not to wait. More bank 
thefts take place  from 9 to 11 a.m. than any other  two-hour stretch.

In all the incidents, there were  only 30 injuries - 14 to bank employees, 
seven to customers,  seven to the perpetrators. No one  was killed.

MILLIONS OF DOLLARS: How much are robbers  getting away with?

Some 92 percent of bank  robbers - out of 1,304 incidents   nationwide - 
made off with loot.

They stole just under $9.5 million  in cash, plus $39,000 in checks, 
in  that period.

FRACTION RECOVERED: How much do authorities get  back after robberies?

Authorities seized back money taken  from banks in 28 percent of all  thefts.

Still, they don't get 28 percent of  all the stolen cash. About 
$1.46  million was recovered, or about 15  percent of the money stolen.

WHERE THE HITS ARE: What places are most likely to  be robbed?

With 1,200 robberies, branch  offices are much more likely to get  hit than 
an institution's main office  (with 61 instances). There were 36 cases of 
in-store banks being  robbed.

There were 886 robberies in commercial districts, compared to  291 in 
shopping centers and 79 in residential areas.

There were more robberies in  small cities and towns (421) than in  suburbs 

The most were in  larger urban areas (625).

BANKS FIGHT BACK: What do banks do to track  robbers and their money?

The most common security  devices (among banks robbed in  this period) were 
alarm systems  (1,270) and surveillance cameras  (1,282).

The next most common  technique is "bait money," in which  cash with 
pre-recorded serial  numbers is given to robbers so it  can be tracked 
later. Dye packs  were used about 25 percent of the  time.

Only 61 of the about 1,300 banks  hit had security guards.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, data  from April 1, 2009, to June 
30, 2009

A Rash Of Robberies

NORWELL - Wednesday, March  24, 2 p.m.: A man walks into the
Sovereign Bank on Washington Street,  claiming he has an explosive
device  and demands money.

MILTON - Wednesday, March 24,  9:35 a.m.: A man claiming to have a
weapon robs the Citizens Bank on  Adams Street near the Mattapan line.

HANOVER - Tuesday, March 23, 4  p.m.:  A man robs a Rockland Trust
branch on Columbia Road in Hanover.

ROCKLAND - Tuesday, March 23,  3:30 p.m.: A man walks into South
Coastal Bank on Union Street in  Rockland. He lifts his hooded
sweatshirt, exposing what he claims  was an explosive device.

STOUGHTON - Tuesday, March  23, noon: An armed man passes a  note to a
teller at South Shore Savings  Bank in Stoughton, demanding  money.

BRAINTREE - Sunday, March 21,  4 p.m.: A man chats on a cell phone,
apparently arranging for a getaway  ride, while holding up the TD Bank
on  Granite Street after passing a note  demanding money.

WEYMOUTH - Wednesday, Feb.  17, 2:15 p.m.: A man in a puffy winter
jacket walks into the South Shore  Savings Bank on Middle Street, then
  hands the teller a note claiming he has  a gun and demanding money.
Police  believe the same man has robbed at  least eight banks since
Oct. 29 in  greater Boston, including ones in  Quincy and Randolph. A
suspect,  Alabama resident Anthony Gilbert, is  later arrested.

N. QUINCY - Monday, Jan. 25,  3:45 p.m.: A man dubbed the "Trench
Coat Bandit" - later arrested and  identified as [name redacted] of
Everett -  makes off with $12,000 from the  Citizens Bank at 371
Hancock St. 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D