Bank robberies decrease as criminals switch to cyber-crime

Dec. 27, 2013 at 7:07 PM

LONDON, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Bank robberies in Britain have dropped 90 percent in the last decade as criminals find greater rewards in targeting financial services online, figures indicate.

The British Bankers Association reported there were 66 robberies in 2011, compared to 847 in 1992.

Defensive technologies are making it extremely difficult for "traditional" robbery tactics to be successful, BBA chief Anthony Browne told the BBC.

Deterrents range from simple barriers that lower when a panic button is pressed to a special "fog" that disorients would-be robbers -- and even a hard-to-remove "DNA" spray that can subsequently prove a suspect was at the scene of a bank robbery.

"Being caught up in a bank job is a terrifying ordeal for staff and customers that can scar lives for decades," Browne said. "Banks are working hard to confine armed robberies to the world of TV dramas."

The decrease in bank robberies has been mirrored in the United State, where FBI figures put the number of bank robberies nationwide at 3,870 in 2012 -- the lowest in decades.

However, while brute-force bank robberies are dropping, banks and other financial institutions are increasingly being targeted by cyber-criminals, officials warn.

"Instead of guns and masks, they used laptops and malware," says Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

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