Why Bank Robberies Are Dumber Than Ever
Photo by Jason Dent / Unsplash

Why Bank Robberies Are Dumber Than Ever

Bank heists have hit a 50-year low, as the crime's risk has proven it's no longer worth the potential reward

On a myriad of occasions, I’ve stood there, waiting in line for an ATM, staring into space, wondering if I could rob a bank.

It’s not even about the money. Don’t get me wrong, the money would be grrreeat, but it’s really about testing my wits. Could I draw up a plan better than the one Spike did with Inside Man? Can I outwit the cops like I’m Danny Ocean? I don’t know, I think I could, but it really isn’t even worth it to try. If you rob a bank, you’ll probably get caught, and for what, a few thousand bucks? Not worth it. Apparently, robbers have got the memo, too, hence why folks aren’t channeling their inner Cleo and setting off real-life bank heists these days.

According to The Conversation, bank robberies have seen a precipitous decline since the FBI began keeping track of them back in the 1930s. They peaked in ’91, when 9,388 were committed. Thirty years later, in 2021, there were 1,724—a slight uptick from 2020’s 1,500, which was a 51-year low.

There are plenty of reasons for this. For one, there are less IRL bank locations these days. Additionally, in the 1960s, robbing a rank could net you more than $30,000. In contemporary times—due to inflation and security measures—sticking up your local Wells Fargo is gonna put, on average, a little more than four grand in your pocket. Most rational people don’t consider the risk to match up with the reward.

As The Conversation also points out, scamming is where it’s at right now. The publication noted that in 2016, credit card scammers who were convicted took home $60,000 on average. CNBC reported that credit card scammers were responsible for $28.65 billion in losses worldwide in 2019, with those in the United States accounting for one-third of that total. Experts say the Covid-19 pandemic likely exacerbated the trend. And that’s just credit card scams; we’re not even getting into PPP loan fraud, which could total more than $80 billion.

Next time you think about running up in the bank and risking it all, perhaps you should meditate on a nice little internet scam instead. Just keep me off your mailing list.

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