Holiday bank hold-ups on the rise

Wanted for a Dec. 9 robbery of a Chase Bank in Queens, NY, this suspect is described as approximately 5’ 9’’ tall, chubby build, possibility Dominican, and in his 30s. (Photo: FBI)

A 5’ 9’’ tall, chubby build, possibility Dominican, 30 year old man is suspected of robbing a Chase Bank in Queens, New York, on Dec. 9. (Photo: FBI)

There’s been an upswing in bank robberies this shopping season.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a report Saturday detailing December hold-ups, especially in metro areas.

While authorities said some bank robberies are motivated by drug addictions and the desire for more possessions, some come from pure desperation.

HSBC Bank robber

A white male, 5’10” man wearing a brown flat cap or newsboy cap is wanted for robbing a HSBC Bank in Manhattan. (Photo: FBI)

“Holidays are often desperate for a lot of people, and bank robbery is a desperate act,” Lindsay Ram, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office, told the Bangor Daily News.

In the Washington, D.C. area, the number of bank robberies were less than 75 annually over the last two years, but of those robberies, about a quarter took place in December, which is typically the national trend.

Alma Bank robber

A man around 6′ tall and fit is suspected of robbing the Alma Bank in Queens, NY, on Dec. 6. (Photo: FBI)

Overall, the number of bank robberies across the country has declined 13 percent over the last four years, but the number of December bank robberies is on a steady increase, up 20 percent in five years.

Robert McCrie, professor of security management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said he believes some bank robberies are the result of reports of other robberies and the reoccurring message for consumers – and crooks alike – to spend money, which is especially prominent during the holiday season.

“December is a month of celebration, and people have a desire for stuff,” McCrie said. “It’s not a matter of need, it’s a matter of want.”

Doug Johnson, senior vice president for payments and cybersecurity policy at the American Bankers Association, shared a similar sentiment.

“I think it’s really that combination of financial and emotional pressure that causes an uptick in robberies during the holidays,” Johnson said.

Ram said that in the Washington area alone, there have been seven bank robberies this month, two which involved the same suspect, and Chicago saw eight hold-ups in just four days earlier this month.

“This month has started off very busy,” said Special Agent Joan Hyde, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Chicago field office.

Across the nation, there were 5,684 bank robberies in 2013. During those bank robberies, which according to FBI statistics make up less than two percent of overall robberies annually, 18 people died, 15 of whom were the suspects. The average amount taken during bank robberies hovers just over $3,500.

As always, the FBI urged bank employees and shoppers alike to be vigilant during the holiday season.