Bank robberies persist, but they rarely pay off the connecticut story connecticutmag.com a gas is compressed at a constant pressure of

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Most bank robbers in Connecticut, McNamara says, are addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling, and, unlike years ago, “we are seeing people with mental health problems robbing banks.” Last year (2017) was uncommon, she says, because, through mid-November, five women had robbed banks, up from the usual one or two per year.

One was Courtney Worthington, 29, of West Haven, who was arrested in January at an East Haven hotel and pleaded guilty in July to committing three robberies in January and December 2016. She admitted that she robbed a TD Bank in West Haven on Dec. 19, 2016, a People’s United Bank in Woodbridge on Jan. 2, 2017, and a TD Bank in Killingworth on Jan. 5.

On Nov. 14, after reviewing surveillance images and talking to a taxi driver who drove an alleged bank robber to a local hotel, New Haven Police detectives arrested Andre Edwards, 40, of Hamden. He was charged with passing a note to tellers demanding cash at three different New Haven-area banks on Nov. 6, 11 and 13.

A Newtown man allegedly handed a teller a note saying he had a gun and robbed $833 from a local Bank of America branch Aug. 24. Newtown police say John McCarthy, 63, left the bank on foot and was carrying a large knife when he was arrested across the street outside a paint store.

A fitness enthusiast and model was arrested May 3 in California and charged with three Greenwich robberies in April. David Byers, 34, of Solana Beach, California, allegedly robbed a Chase bank in Riverside on consecutive days and a gas station in Cos Cob.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Abel also admitted to last February robbing $733 from a McDonald’s restaurant in East Palm Coast, Florida, and a CVS in St. Augustine, and stealing a woman’s car in South Carolina. Then, the Justice Department says, he tried to rob a Walgreens pharmacy in Stratford and left without any money, before his arrest by Milford Police on Feb. 17.

“The quality of digital video surveillance cameras is far superior to those used in the past,” he says. “Color digital images of robbers can be extracted immediately from the footage and disseminated within minutes to every law enforcement agency and the media.”

In bags of stolen money, banks place GPS tracking devices and exploding dye packs that stain the cash and the robber. Many dye packs are supplemented by tear gas that is triggered by an electromagnetic field near a bank’s exit door and can immobilize a perpetrator, according to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, a nonprofit organization that provides information to address crime problems.

“Bank robbers are using the same old tactics, but have the advantage of cellphone technology for texting by lookouts, and cellphone video for planning purposes,” McGoey says. “Otherwise, banks are still a box with mostly female tellers and staff that appear to offer little resistance to mostly male perpetrators.”

Of 4,900 people known to be involved in robberies, burglaries and larcenies at banks, credit unions and armored carrier companies throughout the U.S. in 2016, 4,529 were male, according to FBI statistics. About 44 percent were black, 37 percent were white and 5 percent were Latino.

The number of annual bank robberies throughout the country rose from 3,866 in 2014 to 4,002 in 2015 and 4,168 in 2016, but the numbers are substantially smaller than in past decades. More than 7,400 robberies occurred in 2003, and more than 9,500 in 1992.

The number of robberies has dropped because of “a number of factors, including better security at the bank,” says Sarah Grano, a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association. “Banks invest heavily in sophisticated alarm systems, bait money and surveillance cameras to help deter and catch robbers. Improved investigative techniques, tougher sentencing and the shift to electronic transactions have also contributed to the drop-off in robberies.”

McGoey suggests other steps to deter would-be bank robbers. Banks should reduce the amount of cash on hand that’s immediately accessible to tellers and install at the bank entrance “a highly visible video camera” that makes visitors aware their images are being recorded. “Many robbers scope out the location in advance, and their unmasked image is captured, giving them something to worry about,” McGoey says.

The security consultant also suggests testing “a time-delay system” that requires people with large cash demands to wait minutes for a machine to dispense the money. “This has worked in the convenience store industry,” McGoey says. “The bank industry rejected this idea, because it causes the robber to stay inside longer, and the robber may get antsy. The time-delay safe could also trigger a hold-up alarm.”

Dick Cross, a former vice president and chief security officer for the Bank of New York in Manhattan, says banks need to reduce the number of entrances and station an unarmed guard at the front entrance to greet everyone coming in. The guard, he says, may deter someone who is casing the bank for a future robbery attempt.

Some Connecticut banks have armed guards, but Cross, Teti and McNamara are not proponents of such a security measure. They express concern that innocent lives or bystanders could be wounded or killed. Teti believes the number of robberies in Connecticut in the future will not decrease substantially, because robbers “know bank employees are trained to do what the robber says. They know employees are not going to fight them, and they probably get more money from banks than from a mom-and-pop store.”

Connecticut bankers, Teti says, have a very good relationship working with the FBI, which has had a primary role in bank robberies since 1934, when it became a federal crime to rob any national bank or state member bank of the Federal Reserve System. The FBI, though, usually defers to local law enforcement authorities to conduct the bulk of the investigations, and Teti says he would like to see more, and better, communication between banks and local agencies.

McNamara applauds local and state law enforcement authorities for their work in robbery investigations and credits the public and the media for the apprehension of many suspects. “We can’t do it without those partners,” McNamara says. “We need the public. The public solves a lot of our bank robberies that are not solved early on.”