Statisticians: Don't Rob A Bank; It's Not Worth It | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Statisticians: Don't Rob A Bank; It's Not Worth It

It was a scenario many have imagined: Retiring to a lonely beach in Mexico after a few minutes of a heart-pounding crime — like Bonnie and Clyde riding into the sunset with a good stash of money attained through a handful of bank heists.

A group of scientists armed with a "normally confidential data set" decided to test the financial realities of robbing banks (pdf) and they found that it simply doesn't pay. Well, that's speaking figuratively. In reality, the statisticians report it does pay — just "not very much."

Here is their conclusion:

"The return on an average bank robbery is, frankly, rubbish. It is not unimaginable wealth. It is a very modest £12 706.60 [$19,734] per person per raid. Indeed, it is so low that it is not worth the banks' while to spend as little as £4500 [6,989] per cashier position at every branch on rising screens to deter them. A single bank raid, even a successful one, is not going to keep our would-be robber in a life of luxury.

"It is not going to keep him long in a life of any kind. Given that the average UK wage for those in full-time employment is around £26 000, it will give him a modest lifestyle for no more than 6 months. If he decides to make a career of it, and robs two banks a year to make a sub-average income, his chances of eventually getting caught will increase: at 0.8 probability per raid, after three raids or a year and a half his odds of remaining at large are 0.8×0.8×0.8=0.512; after four raids he is more likely than not to be inside. As a profitable occupation, bank robbery leaves a lot to be desired."

The Wall Street Journal reports the same is true in the United States, where 1,081 robberies occurred. The average "loot" in the U.S., according to the FBI? $5,531.

The authors of the study note that bank robbers already got the hint.

"Bank robberies and attempted bank robberies have been decreasing, in both the USA and the UK; in the UK, robberies from security vans are on the increase. Security vans offer more attractive pickings," the authors report.

The study appears in the June 21 issue of Significance, a statistics journal published on behalf of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Maggie Gyllenhaal Is 'The Honorable Woman': A Series Both Ruthless And Rewarding

The eight-part drama that begins Thursday stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as a British baroness with an Israeli passport. She's a fearless actor in a show full of kidnappings, seductions and betrayals.
NPR

When China Spurns GMO Corn Imports, American Farmers Lose Billions

China has been a big and growing market for U.S. corn. But then farmers started planting a kind of genetically engineered corn that's not yet approved in China, and the Chinese government struck back.
WAMU 88.5

On Cantor's Last Day As House Majority Leader, Debate Surrounds His Legacy

In his last address to colleagues as Majority Leader, Cantor told his colleagues to remember the House's bipartisan accomplishments.
NPR

Can Pinterest Compete With Google's Search?

Pinterest has created a database of things that matter to humans. And with a programming team that's largely been hired away from Google, the company has begun offering what it calls "guided search."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.