How Bank Robberies Affect You and Your Money

Dayton Uttinger  | 

With all the get-rich-quick schemes out there, perhaps it’s easy to overlook the classic bank robbery. After all, we see them all the time on TV, but it’s usually a scene set in the 1920’s or the setup involves some hypercompetent main character. Surely bank robberies are rare these days? Banks have security systems that are too advanced for anyone to risk it. At least, that’s what we think until a news story breaks. There were just over 4,000 bank robberies in 2015, about eleven a day. So there’s a slim chance of one happening at your bank, but it definitely still happens.

So should you be worried about bank robberies? Absolutely not. And here’s why:

What About My Money?

First of all, the average bank robber makes off with only about $4,000, hardly crippling. There are ways to increase that amount though. Brandishing a gun, composing a team, and targeting a bank earlier in the week all are traits of more successful bank robbers. So they certainly can make off with more, but the chances are that whatever amount they take will be inconsequential to your bank. In fact, most banks don’t even bother investing in security measures if they cost more than a couple thousand dollars; it’s cheaper for them to take the risk.

But let’s just assume that somehow the bank didn’t have enough money to cover your account. What would happen to all your hard-earned savings? Well, your money is insured by the FDIC, up to $250,000, regardless of whether you keep your money at a bank or a credit union. Even assuming that robbers got away with enough to jeopardize your account (an extremely unlikely circumstance), your account would be untouched.

Furthermore, your local bank probably doesn’t even carry that much cash in the building. Just like with your own personal wallet, everything is going digital. Bank deposits will certainly total more than most people’s salaries, but not enough to put a dent in their net worth. Most institutions carry even less up front with the tellers. To any criminal employing a cost/benefit analysis, a bank robbery just doesn’t make sense anymore.

What About Little Old Me?

What if you’re in a bank during a robbery? Occasionally someone does get hurt during these altercations,  but only three percent of all bank robberies ever turn violent. In all likelihood, you won’t even notice that a robbery is happening. Most robberies are silent, with the criminal sliding a note to the teller after waiting patiently in line.

On the off chance that you do happen to be the victim of a more vocal robber, comply with whatever he or she says. If it’s not worth the bank’s money to purchase a couple thousand dollars of security equipment, it’s definitely not worth your physical health. Especially if the aspirant thief actually reveals a weapon, the best advice is just to keep your head down and comply with whatever they want.

But there is a very small chance you’ll ever be in such circumstances to begin with. There is absolutely no reason to spend time worrying about it. In fact, there is even less chance as time goes on. Bank robberies have been on the decline, as criminals shift their focus toward security vans or virtual crime. You should be much more concerned with where your money is in the virtual world than in the physical one. Not only is the risk a lot lower for virtual robbers, but the rewards are much, much higher.

So next time you go into your bank, worry less about how sturdy the vault in the back is or how buff the security guard looks. Instead, pull out your phone, and read up on your bank’s internet security policy before you start taking advantage of its electronic banking app. You don’t need to understand internet lingo to know whether or not your bank is vulnerable. Follow the FDIC’s guidelines on safe online banking. While stealing money virtually might not have the same noir as classic bank heists, they don’t need class if they have millions.

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Dayton is a chronic Wikipedia addict, which is detrimental to her social life but stellar for her writing. She resides in Boise, ID, surrounded by her own frantic outlines, highlighted encyclopedias, and potatoes. The latter was not by choice.