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The Almighty Buck Crime Math Stats United Kingdom

Bank Robbing a Terrible Business, Statistically 207

Posted by timothy
from the far-better-to-steal-by-printing-money dept.
isoloisti writes "Three UK economists got access to national data on bank robberies. The conclusion is that robbing banks pays, but not very much. Average take is about $19k per person per robbery. But, there's a 20% chance of being caught per raid. To make an average income, a robber needs to do two jobs per year, and has greater than 50% chance to be in the slammer after 2 years."
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Bank Robbing a Terrible Business, Statistically

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  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:22PM (#40324599)

    Banking, on the other hand...

    • Re:Stupid thieves (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jxander (2605655) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:27PM (#40324713)

      Give a person a gun, and the can rob a bank

      Give a person a bank, and the can rob a country.

      • by Svippy (876087) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:29PM (#40324773) Homepage

        You're twice the the he ever was!

      • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:39PM (#40324989) Homepage Journal

        Give them a political office and they can rob both.

        • Re:Stupid thieves (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Bigby (659157) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:52PM (#40325297)

          Give them a political office, and they can accept money from the bank ...so the bank can legally rob a country

          • by istartedi (132515)

            Give them a political office, and they can accept money from the bank ...so the bank can legally rob a country

            Rob a country, and the cities fall into ruins, leaving the people with no hope, no education, and driving them to desperate acts such as robbing banks. The cycle is complete.

            • Rob a country, and the cities fall into ruins, leaving the people with no hope, no education, and driving them to desperate acts such as robbing banks. The cycle is complete.

              All of this has happened before, and and all of this will happen again...

        • Give them a political office and they can rob both.

          And get paid to do it...
          and get medical benefits...
          and retirement!

      • Re:Stupid thieves (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:42PM (#40325049)

        Give a person a bank, and the can rob a country.

        Absolutely, when there is no one watching what you are doing and the regulations are off the rails...it makes robbing a countryand its people so easy.

        Just loan on the front and bet against those loans on the back...then ask for a bailout when things come crashing down (which banks knew would happen) and reward your board with big bonuses courtesy of the tax payers you already robbed...isn't double dipping great...especially against the middle class and poor.

      • Re:Stupid thieves (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Z00L00K (682162) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:53PM (#40325323) Homepage

        Realize that today a lot of banks don't handle the physical money - they only handle digital money, so being a bank robber is soon futile.

        To get cash you need to stand in the ATM queue.

        The downside is that robbing a supermarket can give a better payoff.

        • And where do you think the cash in ATMs come from? Hint:the bank. Banks still handle plenty of physical money, just not the amounts they used to. They may not have hundreds of thousands in cash on hand, but will certainly have more than a supermarket. How many customers at a supermarket pay cash?
          • Re:Stupid thieves (Score:5, Informative)

            by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @02:48PM (#40326337)

            No, the cash in an ATM does not come from the bank. It comes from a cash vault at a central depository in secured canisters via an armored car. Nobody at the branch (including the armored car delivery guy) physically touches any of the cash that goes into the ATM. The people at the depository are guarded by guns; robbing a depository would be a bit more difficult than robbing the cash from a drawer at a branch bank.

      • Re:Stupid thieves (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @02:14PM (#40325761) Homepage

        "Which is the greater crime, to rob a bank or to own one?" --Bertold Brecht

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by roman_mir (125474)

          The answer is to rob a bank of-course.

          Owning a bank is a business, like any other, except when government gets involved, guarantees the debt that is taken (FDIC), guarantees the credit and loans that are given out (FHA, F&F), creates environment where giving out fake loans is profitable (Fed, IRS, FHA, F&F, FDIC, HUD, all of this).

          Banks are businesses, saying that a business is 'crime' is strange at least, since people use them voluntarily (until again, gov't makes it impossible not to use one).

          The

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by dmt0 (1295725)

            except when government gets involved...

            You mean this government [wikipedia.org]???

          • by CSMoran (1577071)

            saying that a business is 'crime' is strange at least, since people use them voluntarily

            People get into Ponzi schemes voluntarily too. I don't think this is a good argument.

          • Re:Stupid thieves (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SlippyToad (240532) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @03:31PM (#40327061)

            Owning a bank is a business, like any other

            No, it is not. A bank has power over an economy that no other institution can match.

            saying that a business is 'crime' is strange at least,

            LOL. Tell that to the drug dealers, oh, everywhere.

            You are getting confused about "criminal" versus "illegal." Criminal is criminal, no matter the law. Illegal is when the law recognizes that something is criminal. But many businesses are actively criminal in that they steal from their customers, and actively harm their communities. The law has simply been bought to permit them to behave this way. Doesn't make it any less reprehensible.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by roman_mir (125474)

              No, it is not. A bank has power over an economy that no other institution can match.

              - not in a free market economy. In a gov't controlled fake money, fake credit, fake insurance economy, with huge impossible to service debts - yes.

              In a free market economy? Absolutely not, a bank is just another business - storing people's deposits that are not to be loaned out and making loans with deposits that can be loaned out, where the client of the bank is informed that his deposit is partially loaned out but he is making some interest on it. And of-course in case of making loans without gov't invo

              • by Hatta (162192)

                My point is that a business that satisfies consumer demand (and I did put the word VOLUNTARY there, by the way), is not a crime.

                What consumer demanded securities based on loans that were known to be over 90% fraudulent?

                Banking doesn't have to be a criminal enterprise, but as long as they're allowed to get away with stuff like that, it will be.

                • by roman_mir (125474)

                  Didn't you read what I wrote?

                  It's a gov't system that created this problem. Gov't provides fake banking insurance - FDIC. There are no assets there, it's all 'guaranteed' with printed money or at best with taxes (which is also ridiculous, it's redistribution of wealth from some people to others because why? Gov't isn't supposed to backstop bad business behaviour, a bank loses money, a car company goes bust, whatever, it's a private matter).

                  Gov't destroys the currency by printing the shit out of it, its val

                  • Re:Stupid thieves (Score:5, Interesting)

                    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:53PM (#40328347) Journal

                    Yes, because banks never collapsed before the FDIC. There were never any bubbles before the creation of the Fed.

                    If you actually look at history, the period between the great depression and the 1980s were among the least financially turbulent in history. We learned our lessons after the great depression, and that served us well for 50 years until "free market" types like yourself decided banks didn't need to be regulated.

                    Were there bubbles in the meantime? Yes, but they were far milder than they would have been otherwise.

                    • by Hatta (162192)

                      Stagflation isn't a depression. Relative to the great depression, and the crisis we're in today, the 1970s were a speedbump. I'm not ignorant of our history, I just view it in context.

                    • by Hatta (162192)

                      Again, small potatoes compared to the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the numerous recessions that occured in the 1800s.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            Also, there's nothing voluntary about losing your job because your employer can't get a short term loan to cover your paycheck because their bank didn't have enough cash in reserve.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lcam (848192)

        >> Give a person a bank, and the can rob a country.

        If you look at the USC 1-201 (4) a bank is "means any person engaged in the business of Banking."

        If you understand banking as the holding and trading of notes or other instruments, we are all banks. And since we most often trade notes or instruments that are issued or backed by the Federal Reserve Bank, our banks are technically all subsidiaries of the Federal Reserve Bank.

        Has anyone here ever tried exchanging notes or instruments that are of your o

  • by garcia (6573) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:23PM (#40324607) Homepage

    I RTFA but I didn't see any reference to the general intelligence of the robbers. From what I've always understood, intelligent bank robbers are generally not caught while those who just wandering into a bank with a paper sank and a finger gun end up getting busted quickly. You know, because they make it obvious who they are.

    • by couchslug (175151) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:25PM (#40324667)

      Intelligent bank robbers get government bailouts, and don't go to PMITA prison.

      Silly bank robbers use a mask and a gun, and have much worse outcomes.

    • by Presence2 (240785) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @02:15PM (#40325793)

      My suspicion is that the white collar or "intelligent" robberies are not included in the statistical sampling the authors were allowed to draw upon. Things like electronic fraud, employee skimming, loan fraud, etc - which net the culprits millions and are not made public because they impune upon the bank's integrity far more then some guy with a gun in his pocket.

    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      From what I have seen, it all comes down to the frequency with which you attempt to do it. There was someone in LA that was hitting a bank or two every week that wasn't caught until their 9th attempt.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:29PM (#40324761) Journal

    The best way to rob a bank is to own one [amazon.com]. And it's only gotten better for the robber barons over the past 30 years.

  • by Herkum01 (592704) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:37PM (#40324937)

    Know what you are doing [officer.com].

    In the US there are very few large scale organizations that are not businesses, and violence is bad for business; there is not that much of it. A good example of this kidnapping, extortion, protection rackets, are usually small-scale. There are other occupations that are safer and easier to gouge people out of money so it never reaches the scales that it does like in Mexico.

    If the poverty line gets low enough combined with severe cuts in local services, it would not surprise me to see this trend be reversed.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      In the US there are very few large scale organizations that are not businesses, and violence is bad for business; there is not that much of it. A good example of this kidnapping, extortion, protection rackets, are usually small-scale.

      Then explain the government's War on Drug Users. It turns out kidnapping and extorting harmless pot smokers is very good for business.

  • Use hacking skills (Score:5, Informative)

    by bhlowe (1803290) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:37PM (#40324951)
    Read How to rob a bank: A social engineering walkthrough [csoonline.com], the more modern way. (Maybe this was on slashdot?)
  • I feel certain all persons considering robbing banks will study this statistical data and after due and sober consideration, be dissuaded from such high-risk, low-reward enterprise.

  • Willie Sutton once famously said he robbed banks "Because that's where the money is."

    Not any more.

    Credit cards mean banks no longer have the money.

    ATM machines mean most of the money is locked away in safes - and spread out over many branches, convenience stores, etc.

  • The vast majority of bank robbers are unlikely to have developed a career plan, and sufficient training and study to buttress it. Rather, they tend to be running on desperation. When someone(s) go on a bank robbing spree, it's usually a sign they've reached some sort of crisis in their lives, and aren't really thinking things through.

    Pervasive video surveillance makes life difficult for the modern retail robber, just as it would for traders making heavily leveraged bets at trading desks in the CBD offices.

  • The trouble is many criminals are criminals because they haven't got the good upstairs to support more gainful employment. Has anyone done a study to determine how the intelligence of those convicted of bank robbery and related crimes compares with society as a whole?

    My guess they are below average. So its no surprise they are not terribly successful at it. Its not likely they'd be terribly at anything that requires deep analysis. Its sorta like how robbers always love guns that use clips. If you going

  • Three UK economists got access to national data on bank robberies... Average take is about $19k per person per robbery.

    ... getting paid off with a degree in Economy

  • Of course, it pays the banks more than the bank robbers. Same basic principle though.

  • unskilled labor (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @02:09PM (#40325661) Homepage Journal
    Robbery to me is largely an unskilled profession. Skilled persons can scam and get cash in a much less risky manner. When I was younger I took scrap metal that was not absolutely mine, though did not steal it, and sold it. My friends in retail had many strategies. Of course some bankers are the ultimate skilled thieves, billions in the US savings and loans scandal of the 90's, continuing theft by the general financial industry in the US and worldwide. All legal enough that few are prosecuted. If one thinks that college does not pay, ask Madoff. He had to take the fall, but his family is better off than many of the clients.

    So the question is bank robbery good for unskilled labor. Lets say that you pull five jobs in a year, get convicted for the last one, and get five years in prison. The robber is in jail, room and board taken care of, but the family might have 80K in unreported funds. If they are somewhat smart, they will get government assistance as well as the 13K a year average. OTOH, if the robber is less responsible they have had a lifestyle for a year that few unskilled people can have. And only worked a few weeks at most.

    Sure for those of us with jobs and skills it seems a bit silly, but there a lot of people for whom 20K seems like a fortune. This is why I think that such analysis are not very useful. It does not speak to the basic root fo the crime.

  • Did the same banker who calculates interests calculate the changes of getting caugh.
    One raid, 20% change of getting caught, you need two raids a year, and that increases changes to over 50%, WTF!?

    • Re:Who did the math? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Experiment 626 (698257) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @02:26PM (#40325979)

      One raid, 20% change of getting caught, you need two raids a year, and that increases changes to over 50%, WTF!?

      TFA claims that doing two raids a year gives you a greater than 50% chance of getting caught within 2 years (i.e., 4 raids). Let's check the math...
      After 1 raid you have a 100% - 20% = 80% chance of eluding capture.
      After 2 raids, it's 80% ^ 2 = 64%
      After 3 raids, it's 80% ^ 3 = 51.2%
      After 4 raids, it's 80% ^ 4 = 40.96%
      100% - 40.96% chance of not getting caught = 59.04% chance of getting caught, which is in fact over 50%.

  • Average take is about $19k per person per robbery. But, there's a 20% chance of being caught per raid.

    $19k per job plus a 20% chance of winning free room and board for a few years doesn't sound so bad. Sign me up!

  • ...if bank robbing is such a terrible business then why do the banks continue doing it?

  • Quality of Life? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sdguero (1112795) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @02:41PM (#40326225)
    I'd argue that the quality of life for bank robber is FAR better than the average office drone. They only have to work a few hours a year for their pay check...
    • I'm going to daresay that the ones who only work a few hours a year are going to be the ones who are well above the median chance of 20% as far as getting caught goes. Doing it right takes a little preparation.
  • what you should do if you want to rob a bank is get hired as an exec at one and then get paid way to much.

    Rob a Bank and the SS will be chatting with you Rob a Bank Company and .....

  • There goes my retirement plan!
  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @04:22PM (#40327803)
    You can make lotsa money at fast food joints, don't be the one flipping burgers (be the franchise owner or up)
    You can make lotsa money at gas stations, don't be the one behind the counter (be an executive in one of their high rise offices)
    You can make lotsa money stealing cash, don't be the one handling the cash (be one of them Wall St businessmen that lie, cheat, and steal from people everyday).

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