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Tue, Oct. 15

Wiederaenders: Robberies among increasing trends we pay for

LEFT: Robbery suspect at the OneAZ Credit Union on Pav Way in Prescott Valley on Friday, July 13, 2018. RIGHT: The suspect in this surveillance video is being sought by police for allegedly robbing the Credit Union West in Prescott Valley on Friday, May 3, 2019. (PVPD/Courtesy)

LEFT: Robbery suspect at the OneAZ Credit Union on Pav Way in Prescott Valley on Friday, July 13, 2018. RIGHT: The suspect in this surveillance video is being sought by police for allegedly robbing the Credit Union West in Prescott Valley on Friday, May 3, 2019. (PVPD/Courtesy)

Three trends are on an apparent upswing. The first two, most everyone sees or hears: robo calls and scams. They can go hand in hand.

The third, however, is something akin to what we see in the movies: bank robberies. And, while their numbers appear to be increasing, the payoff for the criminal is fairly slim, published media reports and criminal justice statistics show.

Readers of The Daily Courier, for instance, may recall two of the more recent incidents:

• Credit Union West, Prescott Valley, at midday Friday, May 3, 2019 – a man wearing a brown fedora and sunglasses demanded cash from the teller. The unidentified man, not using a weapon, made off with $1,545; he has yet to be apprehended.

• OneAZ Credit Union, Prescott Valley, Friday, July 13, 2018 – a suspect told a teller to give him cash or else he would use force, and escaped with about $2,000; he too has yet to be found.

Then there was the string of notable robberies that touched Prescott in 2010, when a serial bank robber hit the Wells Fargo in Prescott for about $2,500. Dubbed the “Skeletor Bandit,” a man had robbed six banks in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Prescott and Surprise between Oct. 22 and Dec. 11, 2010, before getting arrested in Phoenix on Dec. 22.

“It sounds rather glamorous. A few hours of planning, a few minutes of adrenalin‐packed work, a truckload of 100‐dollar bills … no taxes to pay, and the rest of your life on the Costa del Sol or somewhere else warm and sunny,” a 2012 analysis, “Crime does pay – but not very much,” states.

While $1,500 to $2,500 is not chump change, it is truly not a lot – and, remember, these are an economic activity like any other, with profits, losses, risks and returns. But like in the movies, it is all fun and games until someone accidentally gets shot, usually when the “plan” does not go as expected.

Face it, every bank crime has the potential to be a violent crime, even robberies – despite the fact that most don’t involve displaying a gun.

But for the most part, the average bank robbery looks nothing like how Hollywood portrays it. Instead of flashy, dramatic and well-orchestrated assaults on a financial institution, in reality most bank robberies are much simpler.

The glamor of it too – Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in the 1930s leaving jaws dropped or movie-goers even cheering them on – is simple: banks and credit unions are federally insured, so the money stolen essentially belongs to the federal government.

It’s the average guy sticking it to the government. Right?

Don’t fool yourself.

It’s like socialism; similar to the indigent or homeless person being treated in the hospital’s emergency room with no way to pay, the rest of us pay for it eventually.

Maybe not today; more likely tomorrow, when we have to pay higher costs on services, taxes or insurance.

As sobering as that comes across, remember to be observant; the police are still investigating the local unsolved bank robberies; report anything that may assist in identifying and finding the suspects.

Logic says somebody out there knows who those people are.

To provide information about a crime, call Yavapai Silent Witness at 1-800-932-3232. And, you don’t have to give your name.

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for The Daily Courier and Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.

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