There have been nine bank robberies in the Denver area this week, three each on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. With developments like this, it may seem like Colorado is getting overrun by stick-up artists -- and, in actuality, that's more or less the case. According to FBI Community Outreach Specialist Dave Joly, so far this year there have been 180 Colorado bank robberies, a marked increase from the 135 the state experienced last year.
Colorado has long been a bank robbery hot bed. In 2005, the state experienced 214 robberies, an extremely high number that made Colorado the thirteenth most-bank-robbed state in the country, right behind much larger Florida. But then the Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force, an FBI-run crime-fighting agency launched in 2004, started hitting its stride and nabbing robbers before they could hit too many banks. By 2008, robberies were way down -- though the same can't be said for 2009.
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It's hard to explain the upswing. While it may seem obvious that the sour economy is fueling the robberies (something even Joly suggests), Safe Streets members have noted in the past that bank heists don't increase when the economy tanks. It's not surprising, though, that many of the robberies have occurred recently, since the holidays always seem to draw out the scofflaws.
The past few days, things seem to have reached a fever pitch. On Monday, for example, perps hit three different metro-area banks in ninety minutes -- which spells trouble for the Safe Streets team, since they have to respond to each and every robbery. Sure, it's still a far cry from the day a few years ago when Safe Streets had to tackle seven robberies on a single day, but considering there were three more robberies on both Tuesday and Wednesday, the small team of gumshoes have their work cut out for them.
"They're running on M&Ms and coffee," says Joly. Hopefully that's enough to catch the bad guys.