Bank Robbery in the United States
According to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, robbery is the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear. The focus of this study, bank robbery, is a subtype of robbery targeted at banks. Because of this element of force or the threat of force, bank robbery is highly feared among the population.1 Some view robbery in the context of violence; others maintain that robbery offenders come from a subculture of theft.2 Sometimes it is difficult to separate the two. The UCR Program classifies robbery as a crime against property and includes robbery in its violent crime total. A bank robbery is indicated when the crime is robbery and the location is a financial institution. UCR-National Instant-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) standards state that the victims in a robbery can be either persons or entities, i.e., businesses, financial institutions, etc., or both.3 In a bank robbery, the primary victim is the bank itself, but the teller being threatened or injured is also a victim. A computation of UCR Summary data showed that a bank robbery occurred just under every 52 minutes in 2001, accounting for 2.4 percent of all robbery in the United States.4 This represented a total loss of approximately $70 million. While this seems like a large amount of money taken, the average amount of money taken in a bank robbery over the period 1996 through 2000, according to NIBRS data is less than $5,000. The crime of robbery showed a clearance rate of only 24.9 percent in 2001. The clearance for bank robbery was 57.7 percent in 2001.5 This is a relatively high clearance rate when compared with that of other Part I crimes.* Only murder, at 62.4 percent, has a higher percentage of crimes cleared by arrest. Even with such a high clearance rate, bank robbery remains...