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FBI Stats May Show N.C. Has the Most Bank Robberies

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RALEIGH — North Carolina is fast approaching a title it does not want, robbery capital of the U.S. When all is tallied,FBIstatistics are expected to show more bank robberies happen in North Carolina than anywhere else.

Some of the country's largest banks are based in North Carolina. The state's status as a banking center also makes it a target for criminals looking for easy cash.

In 1997, the average take from a bank robbery was $9,266. In North Carolina, it was $11,722. There were 210 bank robberies in North Carolina in 1997.

In 1998, that number grew by 38 percent, to 289. Although the state ranks third in the nation in bank robberies, it also ranks second in solving them.

"They're not displaying great intelligence in this line of work, because most bank robbers are caught and convicted," said Paul Stock of theN.C. Bankers Association.

Industry executives are cautiously optimistic that the number of robberies is declining for the first time in years.

"Last year, through the first quarter, there were 65 bank robberies in North Carolina. This year that number is down to 38," said Stock.

The FBI says the arrest of serial bank robbers Mark Brindell and Isaiah Belcher may be one reason why. Lawmen say they are responsible for five percent of the hold-ups in North Carolina last year.

Security devices like cameras and dye packs often lead to arrests. But North Carolina banks are reluctant to add security measures like armed guards that are common in big cities.

"In some of the big cities around the country, you see a lot of security precautions which are certainly well-intended, but they give a fortress type feel to the bank and create not a very good atmosphere," said Stock.

Although bank robberies are pretty common here, bank employees and customers rarely get hurt during them.

That is another reason banking executives feel comfortable sticking with the security measures they already have.


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