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Reducing Violent Bank Robberies in Los Angeles

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 69 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2000 Pages: 13-17
William J. Rehder J.D.
Date Published
January 2000
5 pages
Coordinated efforts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Los Angeles Field Office (FBILA), local police, and the Southern California banking community have resulted in a steady decline in the previously high rate of bank robberies in the Los Angeles area.
The average number of bank robberies per year in the Los Angeles area increased from 400 in the 1960's to almost 800 in the 1970's, 1,400 in the 1980's, and a peak of 2,641 in 1992. However, the number of robberies declined to 656 in 1998. The two main factors contributing to the high number of bank robberies were the area's unprecedented population growth and the vast number of robbery targets due to the unlimited branch banking allowed in California. The type of robbery that expanded the fastest was the takeover robbery, which involved multiple perpetrators and victims. The increase in the percentage of takeover robberies resulted directly from street gang activity. However, active efforts by more than 50 FBILA special agents, 2 assistant United States attorneys, and local police agencies resulted in a strong criminal enterprise case against several of the most prolific bank robbers in history. The establishment of an effective working relationship between law enforcement agencies and financial institutions was the most important factor in reducing bank robberies. Another contributor to the turnaround evolved from the Federal Uniform Sentencing Guidelines of 1987. Police agencies have also taken advantage of the reduction in bank robberies to use more resources in active follow-up investigations. Other police agencies may find FBILA's solution useful in their jurisdictions as well. Photographs