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Bank job-less figures: Robberies on the decline

Jessica Morris, special to

Bank robberies continue to captivate the imaginations of many a Hollywood scriptwriter, but they are increasingly being confined to fiction and the times of Bonnie and Clyde.

The number of robberies at UK high street branches fell to just 66 in 2011, down from 847 in 1992, according to a report by the British Bankers Association (BBA).

VCL/Chris Ryan | The Image Bank

Technological advances are driving the downward trend with CCTV, staff training, fog machines, high-speed shutters and time-delay safes contributing to the decline.

"Banks are working hard to confine armed robberies to the world of TV dramas," Antony Browne, Chief executive of the BBA said in a press release Friday.

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"Being caught up in a bank job is a terrifying ordeal for staff and customers that can scar lives for decades. It's great to see that the number of these crimes have fallen sharply in recent years."

Declining bank robbery rates are also being observed across the Atlantic. In February the Wall Street Journal reported that bank robberies in the U.S. almost halved in the last decade, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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An important factor in the trend is the migration of banking transactions to ATMs and online, with recent figures suggesting that criminals are following suit.

And yet the huge sums of money involved ensure that bank robberies continue to capture the attention of millions of people worldwide.

In America in the depression era -- Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow – history's most infamous criminal couple –conducted a prolific stealing spree, and their exploits have since inspired the 1967 biopic Bonnie and Clyde.

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And, in what is one of Britain's biggest bank robberies to date thieves in Tonbridge, Kent in 2006 made off with around 50 million pounds ($87 million).They gained access to the Securitas Depot in Kent after kidnapping the manager and his family the night before.

The world's biggest bank robbery was the seizure of around a billion dollars at the beginning of the Iraqi conflict in 2003. However, as the central bank raid was carried out on Saddam Hussein's orders, there is debate as to whether it was actually a bank robbery.

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