Bank robberies may not exist in 'near future,' prof says

A new paper from an Ontario professor suggests that bank robbery may become non-existent in "the near future."

Drop in Canadian bank robberies linked to stricter security, less cash-reliant society

It's getting tough out there for bank robbers, to the point they soon may not be able to make their money that way.

That’s the conclusion of a new paper, "Canada’s Declining Bank Robbery Rate," from Frederick Desroches, a professor in the department of sociology and legal studies at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ont.

Desroches says Canada saw about half the number of bank robberies in 2012 (591) compared to 2000 (1,098). As well, the paper says, today's robbers are typically less experienced and less successful than their predecessors.

The drop in the number of bank robberies is due to several factors, including an aging population, and modern police and security practices that make it more difficult now to get away with crimes.

"Bank robbery has always been a high risk crime with severe penalties," Desroches writes in the paper, which is to be published in the RCMP Gazette.

"By increasing the risk even more and decreasing the potential profit, the banking community and the police have made this type of criminal activity even less attractive."

Desroches says police receive photos of suspects immediately after a robbery occurs, and that allows investigators to quickly pursue all relevant leads and possible suspects.

That same information can also be shared in a timely manner with police in other jurisdictions, as well as with probation, parole and corrections officers.

Robbery sprees cut short

Police also report higher clearance rates than in the past, which means the people who choose to rob banks are being caught in greater numbers.

"Offenders are identified much sooner and no longer have the opportunity to embark on a robbery spree. Consequently, most commit far fewer robberies before being apprehended," Desroches writes in his paper.

With offenders being caught more quickly, Desroches says serial bandits still exist, but are "much less common than in the past."

The improved success of police efforts is also reflected in media reports, which Desroches says potential offenders pay attention to.

Desroches says today’s bank robbers are living in a less cash-reliant society, which is also encroaching on their livelihood.

"The increasing use of debit and credit cards, direct deposits, and online banking means that people rely less and less on cash to conduct business," Desroches writes.

"Consequently, bank robbery rates have declined significantly and bank robbery is a crime that may disappear altogether in the near future."