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Today's Bonnie and Clydes getting tougher to find

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway getting away in a scene from "Bonnie and Clyde," 1967.
Warner Brothers | Getty Images
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway getting away in a scene from "Bonnie and Clyde," 1967.

Banks have gotten safer in more ways than one since the financial crisis.

As regulators and legislators have gone to great lengths to get banks to bolster their cash positions, the cash itself has come under less frequent assault.

That's because bank robberies have declined 35 percent since 2009, continuing a 10-year trend, according to data from the FBI and SNL Financial.

Total robberies at financial institutions—commercial banks, mutual savings banks, savings and loans, credit unions and armored carrier companies—fell to 3,961 in 2014, down from 6,062 in 2009 and 6,822 in 2004.

The decline in bank crimes is generally attributed to several factors: improving security through surveillance and other techniques, better efficiency from police in capturing those who pull jobs, and the increasing migration of bank transactions out of physical buildings and to online platforms.

"While cyberattacks represent an increasing threat to financial institutions, physical security and theft prevention remain key factors in banks' management of operational risk," SNL's Chris Vanderpool and Daniel M. Burkard said in a report on the trend.

The data provide an interesting glimpse into bank robbery trends, some of which seem intuitive and others not as much.

Bank crimes

Institution type
Number of crimes
% of total
Change from 2009 (%)
Commercial banks 3,496 88.26 -35.43
Mutual savings bank 32 0.81 -37.25
Savings and loans 94 2.37 -12.15
Credit unions 322 8.13 -34.29
Armored carrier 17 0.43 NA
Source: SNL Financial/FBI

Most robberies occur at commercial banks, which represented about 88 percent of the total in 2014, a number that has stayed fairly constant. The vast majority of crimes have been robberies, as compared to burglaries and larcenies, which make up only about 2 percent of the incidents.

Branch offices were the most frequent target, accounting for more than 95 percent of the cases, and most happened at the counter rather than in the vault or in offices or automated teller machines, which accounted for just 55 attempts.

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Some of the robbers were not particularly, well, bright about the way they tried to ply their trade.

In Virginia Beach, Virginia, Dominyk Alfonseca stands charged with trying to rob the TowneBank by submitting a politely worded note—"I would appreciate if you ring the alarm a minute after I am gone"—that concluded with a smiley-face emoticon. He then posted the note on Instagram, police said.

In fact, guns were used in just 10.7 percent of the incidents in 2014, with most attempts made through written notes. Violence resulted in 13 deaths along with 63 injuries and 31 people taken hostage. By race, 2,030 blacks were involved against 1,770 whites and 258 Hispanics.

Morning was a favorite time, while off hours featured the fewest cases.

A time to rob

Time of Day
Total robberies
6-9 am 106
9-11 am 1,037
11 am-1 pm 929
1-3 pm 791
3-6 pm 946
6 pm-6 am 151
Source: SNL Financial/FBI

Friday was the most popular day for robberies, which stands to reason as that is payday for most people. Monday was the next most popular.

Geographically, most of the robberies were committed in the South (1,135) and West (1,072), while the North Central area had 935 and the Northeast 728.

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By state, California easily led the way with 510 robberies, while Texas was second at 245. However, Delaware, with 96.3, had the highest concentration of robberies when figuring incidences per 1,000 branches.

If you're looking for someplace safe from bank jobs, South Dakota was the place to be. The state reported no robberies, burglaries or robberies for the year.