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