Why bank robberies are on the rise

Suspect in bank robbery at Huntington Bank in Miami Township. (Photo/Miami Twp. Police Department)
Suspect in bank robbery at Huntington Bank in Miami Township. (Photo/Miami Twp. Police Department)

Criminals cashing in

DAYTON, OH (WDTN) - It's one of the fastest growing crimes in the Miami Valley and it impacts you more than you might think. You would think robbing a bank is a crime of the past..with new surveillance monitoring and security systems in place, but we found the number of bank robberies in Montgomery County has more than doubled in the past three years.

Doug Sullivan remembers sitting in the East Town Shopping Center for about 30 minutes planning out his move. He grabbed a bandana off the floor of his truck, put it around his face, pulled up his hood, and walked into a bank.

"I said please give me the money, I don't want to hurt you and I apologized and she gave it to me," said Doug Sullivan.

With no notes or weapons, Sullivan robbed the Key Bank on Linden Avenue in November of 2012.

Natalie: "So why did you rob the bank?
Sullivan: "Because I was done. To be honest with you, I wanted to get caught. I didn't have no where else to turn."

He doesn't remember how much money he got away with..but he does recall his plans when he saw his picture on the news hours after he fled.

"I had just said the heck with it and was driving to Cinicinatti and I was just going to rob banks all the way to Texas. That was my plan at the time because I was so sick and my dad called and he put my son on the phone and I turned around."

Sullivan was released on probation just months ago after serving 2 1/2 years in prison. 2 NEWS Investigates found that robbery was just the start of a bigger spike in the crime.

For three months, we requested and reviewed all the police reports involving bank robberies in Montgomery county from the past three years. There have been more than 55, and our data shows the numbers keep growing every year.

Here's a look at the breakdown.
In 2012, there were 9..including the bank Sullivan robbed.
2013 - 12
2014 -20

We are not even half way through 2015 and there have already been 15 bank robberies.

Bank robberies impact more than you might think. Not only is it terrifying for the tellers confronted by the robbers, it's also impacting you..the customer.

Professor Robert Vaughn teaches about criminal justice at Cedarville University. He says there's never a victim-less crime.

"There's lots of factors that those costs get passed down to us right, as consumers..in the form of lower interest rates on our savings, higher interest rates on our loans, fees. So it's part of their cost of doing business. Elevates the cost of everything else," said Vaughn.

What's causing this spike? I asked the person who might know best.

Natalie: "What was going through your mind the moments you were walking through those bank doors?"
Sullivan: "I'm going to get in here and get this money and get out of here and hurry up and go over here to get this heroin so I'm not sick."

Sullivan said his heroin addiction was the only reason he decided to rob a bank.

"It's a miserable, miserable lifestyle. It's a 24 hour a day job. You wake up..you are sick from withdraws and you've got to figure out how to get the dope for that day. It’s a vicious cycle. I didn’t want to live that way anymore" said Sullivan.

Vaughn believes the rise in bank robberies has gone up at the same time the use of heroin has risen.

"Most folks we are involved in bank robberies are probably people who are doing it out of a desperation. They are feeding an addiction. They are in a serious financial situation," said Vaughn.

It's a calculated risk that more and more people are willing to take to get cash.. fast.

Our investigation shows many bank robbers hit more than one bank. But the data also shows those who kept pressing their luck, eventually got caught.

So why would a convicted bank robber want to share his story on camera? Sullivan has turned his life around and hopes his story will help prevent others from making the same mistake.

"When I got to jail, I knew I could go one of two ways. I knew I could learn how to become a better criminal or I could change my life and I decided to change my life," said Sullivan.



Map of Robberies

All data was obtained by 2 NEWS from police reports requested from each jurisdiction in Montgomery County.

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