Bank Robberies Decline in San Diego County

Bank robberies are on the decline in San Diego County, dropping by nearly two-thirds this year, the FBI confirmed Monday.

Seventeen bandits targeted local banks between January and June, the FBI said, compared to 49 for the same period in 2014. The numbers are also a considerable drop compared to 2013 and 2012 figures.

The city of San Diego had the most bank robberies with six in 2015, while both Carlsbad and Chula Vista have seen two. One bank has been robbed in Oceanside, Santee and National City this year.

The "Geezer Bandit" is still out there, evading arrest after a series of bank robberies from La Jolla, to Vista, Santee and Poway, but the numbers show there are fewer criminals in his line of work.

The FBI said it is working closer than ever with banks to improve security and deter would-be robbers.

Additionally, some of the most prolific robbers have been caught.

Criminal defense attorney Anthony Colombo told NBC 7 some criminals have switched to "virtual crime," using computer skills instead of a gun to loot banks and bank accounts.

"And those same individuals who demonstrated sophistication and planning in the past are just applying that skill in a new world,” said Colombo.

But defense attorney Gretchen von Helms said it's way too early to declare victory on bank robbers.

“Sometimes those numbers are up, and sometimes those numbers are down,” she said. “It doesn't appear to have anything to do with how harsh the sentences are or what law enforcement is doing or not doing. Either the people are out there committing those offenses or they're not. And it just seems to ebb and flow, like the tide.”

There were more than 100 bank robberies in San Diego County last year. If the trend continues, there will less than 40 this year.

Nationwide, 20 percent of bank robberies happened on a Friday, while Monday was the second day of choice for bank robbers.

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