Bank robberies across Oklahoma on the rise

Monday, June 23rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Bank robberies are becoming more frequent in Oklahoma, with almost as many committed in less than six months this year than in all of 2002.

The robbery of two eastern Oklahoma banks on June 11th raised the statewide total to 39. Last year, there were 41 bank heists, 40 in 2001, and 23 in 2000.

Most of this year's robberies _ 24 _ have been in or around the Oklahoma City area, bucking a national trend that shows rural banks are more likely to be victimized. The same robbers are suspected in many cases.

``We've had the same bank branch...robbed twice within a week,'' FBI Special Agent Gary Johnson said. ``Bank One has been robbed at the drive-through three times this year. We think that was the same person every time.''

One suspect, Warren Preston Brown, is believed responsible for six bank robberies this year, Johnson said. Another man who is still unidentified and at large is thought to have committed up to five.

In spite of the increase, bank robberies in Oklahoma are statistically insignificant compared with the national total, indicating that other states face a much higher incidence of bank robberies.

Nationally, there were 8,496 bank robberies in 2001 and 7,127 in 2000. But FBI statistics show that bank robberies account for the smallest percentage of overall crime, 1.6 percent, in cities with populations of 250,000 or more.

Of the 24 robberies in the Oklahoma City area this year, 11 remain unsolved. That's a clearance rate around 54%.

Nationwide, the clearance rate stands at 37%.