Armored car robberies surged in Chicago in 2023, FBI data show

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones WLS logo
Saturday, April 20, 2024
Armored car robberies surged in Chicago in 2023
FBI officials tell the I-Team that there were more than three times as many armored car robberies in 2023 than the previous year.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Armored car robberies in the Chicago area have become an expensive and dangerous problem.

With an arsenal of automatic weapons, well-armed raid teams are demanding and dangerous.

In Chicago and across the nation armored vehicles have always been attractive targets for armed bandits. The rapid fire gunshots by an attack squad on an armored truck in Country Club Hills is among several blitz-style heists attempted on armored vehicles during a rash of ambush attacks last fall.

FBI officials tell the I-Team that there were more than three times as many armored car robberies in 2023 than the previous year. And, during that year, the total amount of money lost by Chicago area banking institutions jumped from $3 million to $5 million.

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FBI officials haven't broken out the portion of that increase attributed to the armored car stick-ups, but they said the number of regular bank robberies held steady in 2023. Only the armored car attacks more than tripled, despite the vehicles carrying armed security officers aimed at deterring stickups.

"The numbers that we have in Chicago tend to indicate that an armed security officer does discourage the bank robbery from occurring in the first place or any attempted bank robbery from occurring in first place," said Jeremy Resar, supervisor of the FBI's Violent Crimes Squad in Chicago.

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He said there are currently several serial bank robbers wanted in Chicago.

Decades ago John Dillinger was the most notorious Chicago-linked bank robber, and then there was the infamous Jesse James. But pulled off two or more bank hold-ups; as many as five or six during a time span.

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As with Dillinger or James, many today carry guns capable of a small war.

"They're unquestionably serial bank robbers that work here in Chicago right now," Resar said. "We investigate those particularly aggressively and we obtain a great deal of leads from the fact that there are numerous, numerous crime scenes that are committed by these serial robbers."

There is some good news from the FBI bank robbery file: actual physical violence and hostage-takings are rare during robberies at banks in the Chicago area. And no one has died during a bank incident around the area the past three years.

Another encouraging statistic: after the surge in armored car heists last year, so far in 2024 there hasn't been a single one.