Oklahoma bank robberies seldom go unsolved, FBI says
Jan 14, 2013 (The Oklahoman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Robbing a bank in Oklahoma isn't a good way to grab quick cash, not if you're planning to get away with it.
FBI agents are just two cases away from solving every bank robbery in Oklahoma in 2012.
"I don't think it's ever happened before that every case was solved," FBI Special Agent Rick Rains said. "This would be a first."
FBI agents have solved 91 percent of the 23 bank robberies reported in Oklahoma in 2012.
"The idea of robbing a bank and getting away with it is not a good idea," Rains said.
"Oklahoma has a high solvability rate, above the national average."
Elaine Dodd, vice president of the fraud division for the Oklahoma Bankers Association, said reward money offered for tips is a major factor in solving the crimes.
Better surveillance photos and video also help, as well as close relationships with FBI investigators, Dodd said.
The bankers' association pays up to $2,000 for tips that solve bank robberies, she said. Oklahoma banks provide funds for the reward program.
Often callers with tips are family members or friends of the robbers, Dodd said.
"When tips come in from people who know them (robbers), often they are putting their own lives in great danger for calling us," Dodd said, "and they know where to find the robber when they call."
The two Oklahoma bank robberies in 2012 that remain unsolved were reported in Elk City and in Tulsa.
On Nov. 1, a white man about 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a medium build robbed the InterBank, 1620 W Third in Elk City. No weapon nor getaway vehicle was reported. The robber, who appeared to be in his mid- to late-20s, wore a black, short-sleeve shirt, blue jeans and a baseball cap with sunglasses. He demanded $100 and $50 bills.
Arvest Bank, 1515 S Utica Ave. in Tulsa, was robbed March 9 by a black man in his early 20s who was between 6 feet and 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighed 140 to 160 pounds. He had a dark complexion and wore a black Champion baseball cap.
Anyone with information about a bank robbery can call the FBI's Oklahoma City office at 290-7770. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for cash rewards.
The number of Oklahoma bank robberies was down significantly last year.
Only 23 bank robberies were reported, down from 66 bank robberies in Oklahoma in 2011 and 44 in 2010, Rains said.
"We're thankful bank robberies were down this year, but we know it is cyclical and the numbers can pop back up," Rains said.
Oklahoma FBI statistics from the past decade show the highest number in one year was 95 banks robberies in 2003, with an average of 54 per year, he said.
Rains said bank robbery numbers fluctuate from year to year with no specific patterns, but the high solvability rate may be a deterrent to robbers in Oklahoma.
Nationwide, there also was a decrease in bank robberies in 2012. FBI numbers show 3,758 cases in the United States, compared with 5,135 in 2011.
So far in 2013, only one bank robbery has been reported in Oklahoma -- in Norman -- and a suspect arrested, Rains said. He credits local police with helping catch bank robbers in the metro area.
Motives for the robberies vary, and it is hard to say the economy, location of banks or other factors make a difference in the numbers, he said.
Rains said people should remain calm in a bank robbery situation and let law officers catch the robbers. Customers and tellers should not put themselves in dangerous situations.
"Our advice to citizens who are in a bank that is being robbed is primarily to comply, comply with any instructions that are given," Rains said. "Don't try to take any actions on your own."
He said people should be observant and notice clothing or physical descriptions or license plate numbers in a bank robbery.
"Don't do anything that would put your self at risk," Rains said.
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