A pair of young Georgia women made national headlines in February when they appeared on a surveillance tape, giggling as they robbed a Bank of America location, making off with $11,000.
Most robberies avoid violence. Acts of violence were committed in about 5 percent of bank robberies last year. The person most likely to be killed is the robber.
Note Passers Not a Threat
"The note passers don't really represent a threat," said McCrie. "Just give them a little bit of money and they'll leave."
Robberies appear easy to get away with. Bank tellers are usually told to cooperate with robbers. Many banks — more customer-friendly than they used to be — don't have armed guards or barriers separating tellers from customers.
"We just want to get the bank robber out of the building as soon as possible," said Margot Mohsberg, a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association.
As a result, the holdups are often successful — for a time. Most bank robbers are caught after several successes, Garrett said.
"Usually, they're elated at getting money so easily," McCrie said. "Typically, they don't do just one job."
Nearly every bank has surveillance cameras, silent alarms, marked bills and exploding dye packs. Mohsberg said some banks invest in facial-recognition software.
A single count of armed bank robbery carries a minimum of seven years in prison, and can bring up to a 25-year sentence.
"A lot of them don't think they're going to get caught," said Sparks. "People still do rob banks, because that's where the money's at."