14 Denver-area banks robbed in 1 week
December 19, 2009
DENVER – Fourteen Denver-area banks have been robbed in a week, and investigators say the bad economy may be worsening the typical holiday surge.
Four banks were robbed on Friday.
No one was injured in any of the robberies and no arrests have been made. The amount of money taken wasn’t released.
More than 180 banks have been robbed in Colorado this year, compared with 135 last year, FBI spokesman Dave Joly said. He said the economy, drugs and gangs may be making things worse.
The number of robberies typically goes up during the holidays nationwide, Joly said.
Colorado ranks fifth in the nation in per-capita bank robberies.
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A band of about four men is suspected of robbing at least three Denver-area banks at gunpoint since Dec. 2.
The FBI calls them the Hopping Hooded Bandits because they hop the counter while wearing clothes that obscure their faces.
“They are very brazen, they all have weapons and they are very aggressive,” Joly said. “It’s what we call a ‘takeover-style.’ . . . They come in with guns . . . and order people to the ground and jump the counters.”
Investigators fear the bandits may fire their weapons and someone will be shot.
“It could be very dangerous,” Joly said.
Combined rewards in the Hopping Hooded Bandits cases have reached $25,000. Rewards have also been offered in other robberies.
The banks robbed Friday were a Liberty Savings Bank and a Chase Bank in Denver, a U.S. Bank in Lone Tree and a Key Bank in Littleton.
Authorities have been responding to similar crimes in recent weeks. In November, two people attempting to rob a bank in the Denver suburb of Westminster were killed in a shootout with police.
The robbers were identified as Christian Benshoof, 35, and Ashley Johnson, 25, of Loveland, 50 miles north. Investigators said they were romantically involved.
Two police officers were injured by gunfire.