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Raleigh Looks To Durham In Effort To Reduce Bank Robberies

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh police continued Thursday to search for the third suspect in a bank robbery that occurred Monday on Falls of Neuse Road.

It was the 15th bank robbery in Raleigh this year. It caused city officials to look to their neighbors for help.

Raleigh leaders, law-enforcement officers and bankers are looking at how Durham reduced bank robberies a few years ago. They may discover that what appeared to work in one city does not work in another.

There were 17 bank robberies in Raleigh in 2001. In 2002, there were 21. This year, Raleigh is on track for an alarming 28 bank robberies.

City Council member Janet Cowell wants to reverse that trend.

"A lot of these bank robberies involve firearms or potential bomb threats," Cowell said. "So it is not a good thing to have fleeing felons on the streets of Raleigh."

Cowell said Raleigh should look to Durham for solutions. The Bull City had 30 bank robberies in 1998, but there were only 11 the following year.

In 1999, Durham banks started using a system called Pro Net, which tracks fleeing bank robbers. The numbers have stayed down ever since.

But according to the Banker's Association, Pro Net may not deserve all the credit.

"Pro Net, I think, has advantages," said Ed Aycock of the North Carolina Bankers Association. "But to assign that as the specific or sole reason that robberies have declined, it is difficult to say."

Experts say Pro Net is worth looking into in Raleigh. But they admit bank robberies are random acts that are difficult to predict or prevent.

Where the next spree might happen next is anyone's guess.

"It may be Chapel Hill or Greensboro or Charlotte's turn next year to have a spike," Aycock said.

Experts know one thing for certain: 75 percent of the people who rob banks in North Carolina get caught. The Raleigh team hopes to put some solutions in place by the end of the year.

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