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Crime Technology

Bank Heists - Another Profession That Technology Is Killing Off 131

HughPickens.com writes: In 1992 there were 847 bank robberies in the UK; by 2011 that had dropped to just 66. Now Lawrence Dobbs writes in the Telegraph about how technology is killing off this age old profession. "The development of more sophisticated alarm systems and CCTV, as well as supporting forensic developments such as DNA analysis and facial recognition software, all serve to assist police," says Jim Dickie, a former detective who spent more than 30 years with the Metropolitan Police. Those who do try are either feckless opportunists or "serial offenders" who have already served time and are easily found on police databases. "Hands-on heists are a dying art, because those who have a background in it are literally dying off."

In 2015 a gang of aging jewel thieves pulled off one last spectacular job. Using a diamond-tipped drill and a 10-ton hydraulic ram, they broke into the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd vault and made off with at least £14million in precious stones, gems, bullion and jewelry in the largest burglary in English history. But the Hatton Garden burglars were caught because they used one of their own cars within view of a security camera. According to David Kelly, it's CCTV which has changed things most. "It's now virtually impossible to travel through any public space in a major metropolitan area without being captured. They're everywhere, the image quality is better, and the ability to store images for longer has increased." Then there are your physical alarm devices: motion sensors, window monitors which detect glass shattering, or devices which trigger when a door is opened. "These devices can now be deployed wirelessly – in an older building, where you might not have wires in place," says Kelly. "There are also tools at the disposal of the private sector, in cooperation with the public sector, which are perhaps not matters of common knowledge, and there's a tactical advantage to our clients in them remaining that way." Add to this the various technologies used to protect or track the loot itself – dye packs hiding inside stacks of banknotes, which explode when they leave a certain range; GPS tracking on security vans and inside cash containers – and you can see why even a hardened criminal might prefer to stay in bed.
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Bank Heists - Another Profession That Technology Is Killing Off

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  • Modernization (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @09:20AM (#51349653)
    Classic, physical bank heists may be dying out, but people are still robbing banks - they're just doing it online now instead. Why go physically, when you can steal millions from the other side of the world, where as long as you keep current to the bribes to your local crooked cops in the Former East Nowhere SSR, you don't even have to worry about getting caught. At least, not until you take a trip somewhere...
    • by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @09:43AM (#51349769)
      What you mean is, bank robbery has been outsourced.
    • Re:Modernization (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AntronArgaiv ( 4043705 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:04AM (#51349869)

      Bank heists are for amateurs.
      OWNING a bank is how you steal the big bucks.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It is just a change of how criminals work. It used to be in the 1900s that there was a direct war with safe makers and safe crackers. Burglar alarms pretty much put a stop to that. Now, with cameras and GPS sensors being so small and cheap, it doesn't take much to have protection good enough to make it not worth a physical heist for almost anything.

      Of course, crime hasn't stopped. It has moved to malvertising and ransomware, and what we are seeing now is barely scratching the surface of what the bad guy

    • Sure, there may be fewer heists, but boy are they whoppers! Something about derivatives and credit default swaps.

  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @09:23AM (#51349667) Homepage

    But the Hatton Garden burglars were caught because they used one of their own cars within view of a security camera.

    At least they're keeping it old school. These days people steal things using hoverboards [bbc.co.uk].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But the Hatton Garden burglars were caught because they used one of their own cars within view of a security camera.

      At least they're keeping it old school. These days people steal things using hoverboards [bbc.co.uk].

      I want to smack whoever started calling those stupid things "hoverboards".

      • I want to smack whoever decided we should put "smart" in front of everything because it has some software on it...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          As idiotic as the trend may be, "Smart" is still a valuable indicator of which products not to buy.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      speaking of retro, back in 1970s listening to Santa Cruz police on a Bearcat III scanner (uses crystals) about robbers fled in a car with no plates but were easily found shortly after as police spot a car with no plates (I think they were pulled over before the 211 call went out). Couple hours later on I drove into Santa Cruz, police with the suspect vehicle was still there. Driving by I noticed one of the officers lifting a violin case out of the trunk (did they hide their gun in the case?)
    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      on the other hand cars can be useful for stealing gold, not cash, by using three souped up Mini-Coopers. Hold the authorities at bay by screwing up traffic signals with a computer virus written by a nerdy computer person.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am yearning for the older days where there's practically a job guaranteed for anyone, without these new fangled computers replacing an honest man. /j

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 22, 2016 @09:29AM (#51349691)

    Thanks to so-called "free trade" with substandard nations and "trickle-down economics", over the past 25 years the wealth and savings of most Americans have been drained away. A lot of Americans never even had a chance to accumulate any wealth in the first place. They have no need for making bank deposits or withdrawals. They can't deposit any real cash; they don't have any! They're often unemployed, so there's no money coming in to begin with. They can't withdraw any real cash; they don't have any! They just put any purchases on their credit cards, which are likely never to be paid off.

    The purpose of bank branches today is not to store anything of value. There's nothing to store! Nobody makes any cash deposits, and nobody makes any cash withdrawals. The bank branches are merely there as an office for the paperwork of debt to be signed. It's where people enter into yet another credit card or mortgage agreement. Those are the main transactions performed on any given day at American bank branches.

  • They stay in bed and do these things [slashdot.org] instead.
    The fact that they do not rob banks anymore does not mean there is no theft anymore. Just that it is done differently now.

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @09:38AM (#51349731)
    Crime is no longer a lifestyle that one can choose to follow all through life. Now one had best be highly educated and born with a high IQ or take up honest work as you will be caught. But soon, detection of white collar crimes will become far more common as well as easy. Computers and software will make all the difference. It is becoming possible to look at bank accounts, charge cards, debit cards and money transfers, quickly and easily. A deep look at many people will show that they are spending more than they claim that they earn. Insurance fraud, tax fraud and other white collar crime will suddenly be revealed. A simple example is taking out insurance and claiming that you do not smoke or drink. Thanks to modern technology we might be able to discover exactly how much tobacco and alcohol you purchase in a years time. Gotcha!
  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @09:38AM (#51349733) Homepage

    Rather if it hadn't been for one of the robbers being particularly stupid and driven his own car in front of a camera its pretty likely they'd have got away with the Hatton Garden heist. They're plan was actually quite sophisticated and a lot of time and planning went into it. And it wasn't a 2 minute "hands up and give us the money" job - it took an entire weekend to drill through the wall!

    So I think its fair to say their technical skills were good but their HR skills were poor and they hired an idiot that brought the whole thing down.

  • by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @09:41AM (#51349751)
    It's now virtually impossible to travel through any public space in a major metropolitan area without being captured. They're everywhere, the image quality is better, and the ability to store images for longer has increased.

    I'm supposed to think this is a good thing?? I would rather double my insurance costs. People still think automated image recognition is a conspiracy theory. People freely give up every detail of their lives for the privilege of staying connected to their friends on social media. People pay hundreds of dollars for phones that track their location at every moment. What the actual fuck is wrong with 80% of society? I can't believe this massive divergence in values. Am I literally the only person left who cares about his privacy?
    • You're not the only one; slashdot is disproportionately high in this regard in comparison to the rest of society, so you're in relatively good company. Having said that, tracking is much easier for people to agree to if they get something out of it, something that wasn't possible in the past. I've found that attitudes toward malware and attitudes toward tracking are strangely similar - users don't call until their computer is ridiculously slow, but if the malware spent only 25% of the CPU time mining bitcoi

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Here's a little tidbit that I can share with you. You know how they claim we are now, in the US, at a point where the majority live in urban areas? The Census folks changed the definition quietly. Urban used to be a matter of density per mile (I know, I worked in traffic modeling and you take that into account). Now, they call any town with more then 1500 people an urban area. Or a town with 2500 people - if that town has a residential institution like a jail, nursing home, assisted living center, or the li

    • You and me, we're probably rich enough to be able to give a shit about our privacy. Many people don't have that luxury and pretty much have to give it up in exchange for what they actually need to continue their existence.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      It's now virtually impossible to travel through any public space in a major metropolitan area without being captured. They're everywhere, the image quality is better, and the ability to store images for longer has increased.

      I'm supposed to think this is a good thing?? I would rather double my insurance costs. People still think automated image recognition is a conspiracy theory. People freely give up every detail of their lives for the privilege of staying connected to their friends on social media. People pay hundreds of dollars for phones that track their location at every moment. What the actual fuck is wrong with 80% of society? I can't believe this massive divergence in values. Am I literally the only person left who cares about his privacy?

      The thing is, almost all the security cameras are private. Image recognition has been available to private businesses for some time and gets used in the pub/club industries. Walk into a casino in Vegas, you're getting taped from 3 different angles and having your face compared against a private database shared between casino owners.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They are robbed digitally, and from the inside, but bank robbery is on the increase, if anything.

    From what I've heard, anecdotal as it is, ATMs are being hacked and ripped off left and right all around the world. PIN cards and account numbers are being ripped off at retail outlets on and offline.

    Technology hasn't stopped anything, it's made it easier to both steal and cover your tracks afterwards.

  • It's no longer about sawn-offs and balaclavas, its about constant probing, ddos, threat testing, malware, social engineering etc. The cat and mouse game continues but its now done with faceless teams from far away countries.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:20AM (#51349961) Journal
    The article is presenting an one sided view. Bank heists still happen, with increasing frequency and magnitude. But the tools have changed. At best you can argue blue collar bank heists have gone down.

    But now the bank heists have become inside jobs, white collar and legal. Banks "lend" money to questionable borrowers and sell the loan to some unsuspecting investors, pocket the commission. The bank robbers pay themselves huge bonuses. When the loans go bad, it is the re-insurance companies, investors and eventually the tax payers who pay for it. They risk a billion dollars in loans to get measly bonus of 1 million dollars.

    The real owners of these banks, the shareholders are so widespread and their power to control the bank has become so diffuse, it is basically inmates running the asylum situation in banks and other financial institutions.

    We need laws to stop banks from becoming too big to fail. US Banks claim they need to get big to compete with foreign banks. Foreign banks claim they need to get big to compete with US banks. The solution is an unilateral move by USA. All banks with assets more than 1% of GDP should pay a tax to insure against systemic risks. And they should keep larger reserves. We can use free market tools and gradually deflate the big banks. Or they will be deflated suddenly by peasants with pitchforks.

  • by Oxygen99 ( 634999 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:35AM (#51350055)
    Can I suggest anyone not familiar with the Hatton Gardens heist please go and read up on it. You won't be disappointed. It's the court case that keeps on giving.

    It'll introduce you to the phrase "wombat thick old cunt" if nothing else.
  • There were 3 bank robberies in my area in the last 5 years that remain unsolved.
    • When I looked awhile back one of the best years on record for the FBI was merely identifying 50% of the suspects in bank robberies. Despite the hype it would seem the chances of getting caught aren't all that high if one is semi competent. The big downside though is that it really doesn't pay all that well. It is far and away safer to just get a normal job.

  • Apart from the fact you'll be on about 2 dozen cameras going in, I imagine most banks don't carry anywhere near as much cash these days as people don't use it much. I don't think I've had more than a tenner in my pocket in the last 20 years. Cards or wristbands pay for everything from a pint of milk to a new TV.
  • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @04:27PM (#51353033)

    There was a bank robbed in Eufaula, Oklahoma just yesterday.
    High Speed chase shootings shootouts hostages and all.
    http://www.newson6.com/story/3... [newson6.com]

  • William K. Black wrote a book with that title.

    This is the introduction from his TEDx talk about bank fraud: [youtube.com]

    "So today's class is on how to rob a bank, and it's clear the general public needs guidance because the average the average bank robbery nets only 7,500 dollars. Rank amateurs who know nothing about how to cook the books. The folks who know run our largest banks, and in our last go-round, they cost us over 11 trillion dollars. They cost us over 10 million jobs as well. So our task is to educate ourselv

  • If you think 10-ton hydraulic ram is impressive, it costs less than $100 and weighs about 20 pounds.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.

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