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Bank robberies on the decline

By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Bank theft -- primarily by robbery -- fell by 7% last year, according to the latest statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Thefts at banks and other financial institutions dropped to 5,628 in 2010 from 6,065. The FBI's figures include thefts committed against banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations and, to a much lesser extent, armored cars.

During this same period, the economy showed signs of improvement, but the FBI wouldn't say whether that had anything to do with the decline.

The FBI statistics showed that fatalities occured in 0.2% of robberies, and that almost all of the people killed were robbers. While California had the highest number of bank robberies in 2010, Arizona stood out as having an unusually high per-capita rate of robbery.

Robbery, or the use of force to commit a theft, was the most popular method of knocking off banks, according to the report. There were 5,546 bank robberies last year, compared to 74 burglaries. Extortion was used to try and rip off banks in 13 incidents, the FBI said.

The total take, from all bank thefts in 2010, was $43 million, the FBI said. Loot was stolen in 5,105 incidents, resulting in an average take of $8,423. The banks were able to recover about $8 million of the loot.

The most popular modus operandi involved the use of a demand note. Written notes were used in 3,142 thefts. Guns were used in 1,445 robberies and were actually fired during 71 of those robberies. The FBI said there were 333 bank takeovers last year.

Acts of violence occurred in 236 of the robberies, or about 4%, resulting in 106 injuries. There were 31 incidents in which hostages were taken, most of them employees.

There were 14 robberies that resulted in fatalities. In all, sixteen people were killed. All but three of them were perpetrators.

California, the nation's most populous state, led the way as the state with the most bank robberies, totaling 805 last year, followed by Texas, at 464, and Pennsylvania, 292.

Arizona was one of most prolific states for bank robbery on a per capita basis. Arizona experienced 238 bank thefts in 2010. That's almost the same number as Florida, even though Arizona has about one-third the population. To top of page

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