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Commerce Branch Robbed, as FBI Sees National Bank Robberies Rise

Within 24 hours of BS&T witnessing the conclusion of a robbery at a TD (Commerce) Bank in Manhattan, the FBI today reported that bank robberies rose 2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, to 1,561 robberies nationally.

The absence of low-tech deterrents is a factor in bank robberies, the New York Police Dept. noted in 2003, when the city witnessed a spike in such crime. Police commissioner Ray Kelly faulted the absence of traditional forms of security, such as bulletproof partitions between tellers and customers, as banks increasingly made their branches look less like fortresses and more like cafes. Commerce, which topped Kelly's most-robbed list, was one of several newcomers, including WAMU and Northfork (now Capital One) that were fast opening inviting 'stores' for branches.

Nationally, $23m was robbed from banks in Q.4 2007, of which $10m was recovered, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, D.C., noted in its report on commercial banks, thrifts, and credit unions. Most thieves were unarmed and 90 percent got away with cash.

It is not known how much was taken at the downtown Manhattan Commerce Bank, on 3rd Ave. and 10th St.—which soon will be rebranded to reflect the Cherry Hill, N.J., March acquisition by Toronto-Dominion Bank. One of many police officers on the scene said the thief was unarmed. He preferred not to be named.

Since being reprimanded by the NYPD's exceptional naming and shaming of very frequently robbed banks in 2003, Commerce has stationed uniformed NYPD officers in many of its branches, at its own expense. However, the bank robbed yesterday, which opened only in December, did not have an officer on duty.

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