SAN ANTONIO – Here’s an alarming trend to be aware of when you run your errands: bank robberies have spiked in San Antonio.
We’re just two months into 2013 and SAPD says so far, we’ve had 13 bank robberies. Compare that to 2012, when SAPD says we didn’t that number until the fall months.
Those numbers are surprising since bank robberies have been dropping year after year around the country.
Sgt. Javier Salazar with SAPD says officers have made arrests in 11 of the 13 cases and discovered serial bank robbers have been hard at work.
When banks call 911 to report a robbery, members of the SAPD Robbery Task Force go straight to the crime scene.
"They're a group of specialized detectives,” Sgt. Salazar says. “They're plain clothes detectives who are specially trained in robberies."
He says the hard work usually pays off. On Monday, a north side Broadway Bank reported a robbery. Just eight hours later, officers had the suspect in custody.
"A lot of these suspects go to great lengths to disguise their appearance,” Sgt. Salazar says. “However, with technology and cameras available to us, we're still able to make a lot of these apprehensions."
So in this day and age, we don’t see a lot of Bonnies and Clydes.
But FBI special agent Erik Vasys says when bank robbers are successful, they’ll do it over and over and over again.
"That serial bank robber is the one we're most concerned with because typically that person is traveling,” he says.
That’s why the FBI teamed up with police departments all over south Texas. They’re working together to outsmart the criminals – even asking the criminals themselves for the best tactics.
"We arrest bank robbers. They go to jail. They talk about how they were caught,” Vasys says.
It’s kind of like the movie “Catch Me If You Can," based on the true story of a man who forged checks, went to jail and taught FBI agents how he did it.
"To determine what are the best practices to teach banks to repel bank robbers,” Vasys says. “We've found it's very successful so far."
He says robbers typically want to get in and out of banks as quickly as possible, so police usually get their best tips from witnesses.
Both SAPD and the FBI recommend witnesses try to soak up as much as possible about what the person looks like, and stay out of the way in case the suspect has a weapon.