LOS ANGELES COUNTY — Bank robberies in Los Angeles County and across the state have hit a 10-year low, according to the FBI.
Annual bank robbery statistics released by the FBI Wednesday indicate that officials investigated 122 bank robberies in the county in 2011, compared with 168 in 2010.
With the exception of a moderate uptick in bank heists in 2008 and 2009, bank robberies in Los Angeles county have been steadily waning since 2002, when 401 such crimes were reported.
A similar trend was seen statewide, where 677 bank robberies took place in 2011, down from 779 in 2010 and 1,405 in 2002, according to the FBI report.
“The decrease in overall robberies is attributable in part to closer cooperation among law enforcement agencies, successful prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office and its counterparts at the district attorney’s offices, as well as a more proactive approach by the banking community in the implementation of additional security measures,” FBI officials said in a written statement.
“In addition, media coverage of increasingly clear bank surveillance photographs, and rewards offered by banks and law enforcement (have) contributed to the community’s awareness and has generated valuable assistance from the public in the identification of unknown subjects,” the statement said.
According to the data, California saw about twice the number of bank robberies as any other state. New York comes in second with 339 bank robberies reported in 2011.
Bank heists have been on a steady decline since the early 1990s, officials added.
The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Officer serves seven Southern California Counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.
Though yearly numbers show bank robberies declining, “In January 2012, the pace of bank robberies has increased and so far this year, 40 bank robberies have been reported in the seven-county area, primarily in Los Angeles and Orange counties, followed by Riverside County.
About 12 percent of the heists reported to the Los Angeles Field Office of the FBI were “takeovers” — in which employees or customers are held hostage during the crime.
Along with the updated statistics, the FBI Wednesday issued a list of the region’s top ten wanted serial bank robbers.
They include the “Explosive Threat Bandit,” tied to six L.A. County bank robberies since November — the first of which took place at a West Covina Bank of America Branch; as well as the “Lift and Show Bandit,” linked to three bank robberies in La Puente, West Covina and Pico Rivera since December.
Seven suspected serial bank robbers who have been operating in the Los Angeles area have been arrested this month, including the prolific “Market Duo,” “Bubble Wrap” and “Puffy Coat” bandits.
Anyone with information about a bank robber at-large is asked to call the FBI’s 24-hour tip line in Los Angeles at 310-477-6565.
PHOTOS of the “Explosive Threat Bandit” (top) and the “Lift and Show Bandit,” (below) courtesy of the FBI.