Friday, June 08, 2001

Bank robberies equal all of '00

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Less than halfway through the year, Cincinnati has already had as many bank robberies as in all of 2000.

        A robbery Thursday morning of the Cincinnati Central Credit Union, 1717 Western Ave. in the West End, raised the total this year to 24.

        Just four years ago, there were only eight in the city, the lowest annual total in recent years.

        Lt. Roger Wolf of the Cincinnati Investigation and Homicide Section said the motivations of bank robbers are varied and it's difficult to draw a profile of the average thief.

        “It tends to be a crime of opportunity,” said Lt. Wolf.

        Ed Boldt, spokesman for the Cincinnati office of the FBI, said a common motivation is an addiction to drugs or gambling, which can require large amounts of cash.

        Mr. Boldt said that of the more than 5,800 robbers identified in 1998 bank robberies nationally, 49 percent of them were narcotics abusers.

        He cited 52-year-old Robert E. Conway. Police said that up until his arrest last month the drug-addicted, career criminal had been an extremely active serial bank robber. Mr. Conway is suspected of robbing six banks in Cincinnati and two in Northern Kentucky since April 19.

        Most bank robberies are not the work of serial offenders.

        Nor are they unduly influenced by dramatized or otherwise romanticized depictions of such thievery in television shows or movies, said Mr. Boldt.

        "When you talk to them they don't claim TV or movies made them do it. ... They rob banks because that is where the money is,” he said.

        Though they lack a common motivation, they nevertheless share one trait — desperation.

        “These are people willing to walk into a bank when they know they are being filmed while committing a crime. They are desperate and they have to be considered dangerous,” he said.

        While Cincinnati banks have been hit often recently, it's nothing like Columbus, which had 132 robberies last year.

        The robber of the credit union Thursday entered at 11:53 a.m. Police said he handed a teller a note demanding money and then ran east on Findlay Street and then north on Winchell Avenue.

        Police ask that anyone with information call the Cincinnati Homicide Unit at (513) 352-3542 or Crimestoppers at (513) 352-3040.


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