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Robberies drop in Southern California

– Southern California used to be known as the “Bank Robbery Capital of the World.” Not anymore. The number of robberies has declined, part of a larger trend that has seen crime rates fall across the nation, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

There were 212 bank robberies last year – the lowest since the 1960s – in a seven-county region overseen by the FBI’s Los Angeles office.

At the height of the robbery spree in the early 1990s, the region saw 2,641 bank heists. During the worst year in 1992, more than two dozen Los Angeles banks were looted in a single day.

The drop “definitely has exceeded my expectations,” said retired agent Bill Rehder, who led bank-robbery investigations for two decades.

Better security at banks such as bulletproof acrylic glass has made it harder for bandits to get access to money, authorities said. They also credit the ability to make high-resolution images of robbers available to the public through the Internet.

Some would-be robbers may rethink whether hitting a bank is worth it because the haul is not as great as it used to be. The average heist in the U.S. in 2003 yielded more than $10,000. In 2011, the average gain was just over $7,500, the Times reported.

Meanwhile, convicted robbers are slapped with stricter sentences. Each count of bank robbery carries a maximum of 20 years and 25 years for armed robbery under federal law.

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