The numbers are in, and 2016 was a big year for bank robberies in Chicago.
It wasn’t the biggest year. That was 2006, when a whopping 284 bank jobs were committed across the Chicagoland area.
But 2016 saw 193 bank robberies, 49 more than the year before.
“It is the FBI’s opinion that people rob banks for one or multiple of three reasons,” says Garrett Croon, the Bureau’s former bank robbery coordinator. “To fuel their addiction for drugs, alcohol, or gambling.”
And robberies are traditionally not what you see in the movies. The so-called “takeover robbery”, where the robber vocally announces a heist and “takes over” the bank, is a rare event—usually fewer than 10 percent of Chicago-area robberies every year. Croon estimated he had investigated 500 robberies in his FBI career and the majority were committed by bandits who wanted to get in and out while attracting as little attention as possible.
“Bank robbers want to remain anonymous and they want to get to the teller counter quick,” Croon says. “I’ve been to many robberies where it’s 30 seconds or less.”
The number one time for robbing a bank in Chicago? After 6 p.m. That’s when 56 of the area’s heists were committed last year. (A close second was the time period between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.)
The most robbed day of the week? Friday.
“The FBI’s opinion is, because bank robbers are obtaining their cash for the weekend,” says Croon. “To fuel their addicitons.”
Perhaps the most startling statistic of all, is the fact that bank robberies have more than their share of repeat offenders. Right now, the Bureau is seeking a frightening robber dubbed the “AK-47 Bandit” who wields an assault rifle and has hit at least seven banks across America. Croon says in some years, nearly 3 percent of bank robbers questioned had committed multiple crimes.
“A lot of bank robbers coming out of prison have nowhere to go,” he said. “So what do they do? They go back to robbing banks.”