Los Angeles, California No Longer "Bank Robbery Capital of the World," FBI Surprised
Since the 1960s, the city of Los Angeles has become known as the Bank Robbery Capital of the World, but according to Los Angeles Times, after a half a century, FBI agents are now wondering, "where did all the bandits go?"
The FBI's L.A. office comprises seven counties: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange County, Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo. During the peak of L.A.'s bank-robbery era in 1992, as many as 28 banks were robbed in a single day, the Times reported.
The early '90s was the worst time for the seven-county region's banks with 2,641 robberies were logged while only 212 bank robberies occurred in 2013. Additionally, in 1983, L.A. had more bank heists than the New York, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Sacramento regions combined. The 2013 incidents are equivalent to less than 10 percent of the early '90s robberies, according to the Times.
The last time L.A. saw numbers that low was in the 1960s. In fact, last year San Francisco experienced more bank robberies with 227.
FBI Special Agent Stephen May, who works as the bureau's bank robbery coordinator for the region, said he was surprised with the recent decline and the lower per capita rate of bank robberies considering the L.A. region is home to 19 million people and 4,500 financial establishments.
"I was flabbergasted when we broke 400. Then we broke 300," May said.
Authorities theorize that the city's expansion of its freeway network, the increase in population and number of banks or the availability of weapons on the streets following the L.A. riots could be attributed to the sharp rise during the 1980s and 90s.
However, just like back then, law enforcement is confused as to why exactly there has been a decrease.
The most popular theory to explain the steady decline is the evolution of technology, which has gotten better over the last two decades. Security cameras can snap higher resolution photos of the suspects than in the past, and the Internet has been used to disseminate suspect images to the public faster than evening newscasts.
The amount of security measures that have increased at banks and harsher punishments for bank robbers are certainly plausible explanations as well. Most banks have installed bulletproof Plexiglas "bandit-barriers" to separate tellers from customers and would-be robbers.
According the to the Times, each count of bank robbery comes with a statutory maximum of 20 years, and armed robbery comes with 25 years under federal law.
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