Robbing Banks is Not a Cost-Efficient Profession
Monday, August 20, 2012
Income potential being an important factor in evaluating career options, readers should note that despite its glamorous media image, bank robbery is not a particularly remunerative profession, especially in the long-term. The conclusion that crime doesn’t pay was reached by three economists originally paid by the British Bankers’ Association to assess the cost effectiveness of bank security measures. Using confidential data on the value of every bank heist in the U.K. from 2005 to 2008, the trio came up with an economic model of bank robbery.
They found that the average revenue from a British bank robbery in 2005-2008 was only $31,600, although excluding the one-third of robberies that came up dry boosts the average to $46,600. But those proceeds have to be divided among the gang, and while extra gang members raise the average take, the haul per person decreases.
The average take per person per successful job was $19,792, equivalent to less than six months’ average wage in the UK, although being armed increased revenues substantially. While that may not sound too bad, multiple jobs greatly increase the risk of arrest and incarceration, as 20% of heists ended that way.
Data from the FBI paint a similar picture. In 2011, there were 5,086 bank robberies in the U.S., generating $38,343,501.96 in revenues for the perpetrators, or an average of $7,539 per heist. Excluding the robberies where nothing was taken increases the average only to $8,457. Not only is the return low, the risk is high: out of 13 people killed during bank robberies in 2011, 10 were robbers.
On the other hand, and in light of AllGov’s story last week on the Justice Department decision not to prosecute Goldman Sachs, it appears that robbery does pay well…if the robbers are the bankers themselves.
To Learn More:
Robbing Banks: Less Lucrative Than It Seems (PR Newswire)
Bank Robbery Doesn’t Pay (Much) (by Christopher Shea, Wall Street Journal)
Crime Doesn’t Pay (Well): The Economics of Bank Robberies (by Matt Soniak, Mental Floss)
Robbing Banks: Crime Does Pay – but not very much (by Barry Reilly, Neil Rickman & Robert Witt, Significance) (behind a paywall)
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