OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of bank robberies across Oklahoma has nearly tripled in 2013 compared with the year before.
There were 23 bank robberies statewide in 2012. In 2013, the FBI reports that there have been more than 60, according to a story published Wednesday in the Oklahoman.
FBI spokesman Rick Rains told the newspaper that investigators are not sure what has caused the increase. But he noted that 2012 was a low year in total number of bank robberies.
“I think a lot of it is people are just desperate, and, whatever their reason is, maybe when they see that there’s been a bank robbery, maybe they think, ‘That’s something that I need to do,’” Rains said.
Rains said arrests have been made in about two-thirds of the bank robberies committed in 2013 and added that he thinks the remaining cases will likely be solved soon.
The spokesman says there also seems to be a misperception about how much money robbers are actually able to get away with.
On average, bank robbers get away with a little more than a $1,000 because of banks’ policies that limit how much money is kept in an employee’s till.
The FBI said the punishment for robbing a bank can land someone in federal prison from 20 years to life.
Some of the robberies this year have been more brazen than those of the past, Rains said, with several instances of robbers brandishing their guns and pointing them at bank workers, though no employees or bystanders have been injured. Robbers have also been wearing unusual costumes. One man dressed as a woman, and another man wore a nun outfit.
Marc Maun, CEO of Bank of Oklahoma, said the safety of his employees and patrons takes precedent over any concerns about preventing loss or future theft. Maun said Bank of Oklahoma has seen about 10 robberies this year.
One robber, coined the “Back Fence Bandit,” has hit the company four separate times, three of which have been at one location. The robber escaped from that particular location each time by jumping a nearby fence and disappearing into an apartment complex.