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Press Release | NO. 2003-007

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Press Release # 007
Friday, January 24, 2003

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly Announces Capture Of Man Tied To Four Bank Robberies In Queens

Commissioner Kelly Discusses NYPD Efforts to Stem Recent Rise in Unarmed Bank Robberies

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced the arrest of Shyid James, 29, on Thursday, January 23, in connection with four bank robberies at a press conference at One Police Plaza. The crimes, which were all committed within the last year in Queens, come at time when unarmed bank robberies are up citywide.

Detectives from the New York City Police Department's Major Case Squad analyzed fingerprints off a note that was passed to a bank teller in one of the robberies. They traced the prints to James, and tracked him down to his girlfriend's home in Queens, where he was arrested last night.  Although Commissioner Kelly commended police for the arrest, he noted the upward trend in these crimes.

"Over the last two years, the number of armed bank robberies has remained flat, at 55 for both 2001 and 2002. But the real increase has been in the number of unarmed 'note' bank robberies," Commissioner Kelly said. "Though that increase mirrors a national trend, we are redoubling our efforts to stop this kind of crime in New York City."

So far this year there have been 36 unarmed bank robberies in all five boroughs, compared to 13 during the same period last year. Commissioner Kelly sited several reasons for the increase, including the opening of more bank branches, the extension of daily and weekend banking hours, and the decrease in private, armed security guards.

To encourage bank to step up their own security, he said Mayor Bloomberg will be sending letters to all bank CEOs to urge them to use top-quality cameras and to make other security improvements. The New York City Police Department is also reaching out to the banking industry. Detectives have held numerous meetings with bank managers and security directors to outline robbery-prevention systems.

Because tellers should be trained to provide good physical descriptions of robbers, the NYPD supplies banks with "Criminal Description Sheets" that remind them to take note of a robber's age, height, weight, complexion, eye color, and any noticeable scars or tattoos. Rapid notification of police after a robbery is also critical.

In addition to assisting banks with security measure, Commissioner Kelly announced that bank robbery investigations will now be subject to CompStat-type scrutiny. Patterns will be quickly identified, and that information will be shared with other commands to assist in a broader effort to solve the case. The NYPD has also stepped up surveillance, which includes undercover detectives and cameras, in and around banks prone to robberies.

"We also want to send a message to anyone thinking about robbing a bank to make quick money: The odds are against you. In New York City, we capture seven out of every 10 bank robbers," Commissioner Kelly said. "The average sentence for someone convicted in an unarmed bank robbery is five years in prison; in armed robbery, which is prosecuted federally, the average sentence in 12 years."

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