NEW ORLEANS – The number of bank robberies in the local area is going up.
Experts said that’s alarming because national statistics show bank robberies aren’t happening as often across the nation.
More than a dozen times this year, robbers have held up metro banks.
James Bernazzani is a retired FBI special Agent and has seen some of the most violent bank robberies in New Orleans.
“When I was head of the FBI we had one hell of a violent take over on Carrollton Ave. at the Whitney bank. Over 90 rounds were fired,” said Bernazzani of a 2006 robbery.
Most recently 33-year-old Eric Mallory was arrested in Gretna. He’s accused of robbing two local banks last month. Police said Mallory walked into the Gulf Coast Bank and Trust September 22 and handed a teller a note before leaving with money. Just five days later, a surveillance photo was taken as Mallory walked in and robbed the Capital One bank in the 1800 block of Barataria Blvd.
That accounts for two of the 17 bank robberies this year. That’s more than double in 2015, and in 2014 there were only five.
Across the nation, numbers show that in the past 25 years bank robberies have plummeted 56 percent.
“These guys have to out think the system, and to be quite frank, the FBI will out-think them.”
Since the peak of national bank robberies in the early 90s, banks have heightened and improved security methods.
“Between social media now that the FBI understands, surveillance cameras, forensics like fingerprints, dye packs, the bank robber doesn’t have much of a chance,” explained Bernazzani.
So far, the FBI has solved nearly all of this year’s bank robberies.