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Monday, November 5, 2007

Bank robbery

Bank robbery is the crime of robbing a bank. It is also called Bank Heist especially in the United States. It is usually accomplished by a solitary criminal who brandishes a firearm at a teller and demands money, either orally or through a written note. The most dangerous type of bank robbery is a takeover robbery in which several heavily armed (and armored) gang members threaten the lives of everyone present in the bank. A bank robbery can also take place during off hours when thieves try to break into the vault and get away with money.
According to the Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia, the first bank robbery in America happened during the night of August 31 or the early morning of September 1, 1798 at the Bank of Pennsylvania at Carpenters' Hall. The vaults were apparently robbed of $162,821, or approximately $1.8 million in 2006 dollars. Because no forced entry evidence existed, authorities assumed it was an "inside" job. Several suspects were immediately imprisoned and prosecuted, but the real culprits were Isaac Davis and a partner. Within days of the heist, Davis' partner fell victim to a plague of yellow fever that ravaged Philadelphia that summer.
(Claims of notoriety aside, it is important to note that theft which lacks intimidation or threat of violent confrontation is not truly a robbery, but a burglary. These two concepts are often confused in common discussion of bank crimes.)
During the American Civil War, raiders from both Union and Confederate armies would rob banks in enemy-controlled towns. These robberies were at the time regarded as legitimate acts of war, but many of the raiders carried on robbing banks in the post-war era, giving rise to the famous robber gangs of the late 19th century.
Due to modern security measures like security cameras, armed security guards, silent alarms, exploding dye packs, and SWAT teams, bank robberies are now much more difficult. Few criminals are able to make a successful living out of bank robbery over the long run, since each attempt increases the probability that they will be identified and caught. Today most organized crime groups tend to make their money by other means, such as drug trafficking, gambling, loan sharking, identity theft, or online scamming and phishing. Bank robberies are still fairly common and are indeed successful, although eventually many bank robbers are found and arrested. A report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation [1] states that, among Category I serious crimes, the arrest rate for bank robbery in 2001 was second only to that of murder.
A further factor making bank robbery unattractive for criminals in the United States is the severity with which it is prosecuted. Accounts at all US banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a corporation of the federal government, bringing bank robbery under federal jurisdiction and involving the FBI. Federal sentencing guidelines for bank robbery mandate long prison terms, which are usually further enhanced by the use or carrying of loaded firearms, prior criminal convictions, and the absence of parole from the federal prison system. As with any type of robbery, the fact that bank robbery is also inherently a violent crime typically causes corrections administrators to place imprisoned bank robbers in harsher high-security institutions.
Ever since the "glory days" of the great bank robberies during the 19th century, bank robberies have become ingrained into American popular culture. Numerous films, books, and songs have been written about the crime, which is the crime of choice for villains everywhere in comic books, pulp adventure and crime stories, and even cartoons. The incidence of bank robberies is less pronounced in many other countries despite less security. It is believed that the cultural differences may be the reason.

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