Women robbing more Phoenix banks - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Women robbing more Phoenix banks


The overall number of banks robbed in the Phoenix area is down from a high mark a decade ago, but FBI agents say they are seeing an increase in the number of banks robbed by women.

Across the country, 8 percent of bank robberies are thought to be committed by women. But in the Phoenix area, that number rises to 18 percent.

Investigators say they don’t really know why. And it could be that a small number of women are robbing a large number of banks. This week, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force announced that it had arrested 46-year-old Yolanda Young. She is suspected of robbing six banks, starting in October and ending just last Saturday.

Investigators are trying to capture another woman who is suspected of taking part in seven bank robberies. They believe she is working with a man, and that they take turns robbing banks, but drive the same getaway car. It is a newer model silver or light blue Nissan Juke.

“We’ve dubbed them, at this point, the criss-cross bandits,” said Sgt. Robert Scherer, of the Phoenix Police Department.

In 2009, 225 banks and armored cars were robbed in the Phoenix area, according to the FBI. That number dropped to 88 last year. Part of the credit goes to a task force the FBI started in 2009.

“The one problem I do see is the violence is increasing,” said Lance Leising, who is the supervisory special agent with the violent crimes task force. He says that under normal circumstances, bank robbers brandish weapons between 20 and 30 percent of the time. But in the Phoenix area, they are using weapons in 47 percent of the bank robberies.

Weapons increase the likelihood someone will get injured or killed in a robbery. And when a weapon is used, it adds dramatically to the prison sentence, once the robber is caught.

Last year, Jaime Villa was sentenced to 132 years in prison for robbing a bank, then shooting at police. Another Phoenix man, Anthony Hamilton, was sentenced to 260 years in prison for a string of robberies.

Leising says the way bank robbers operate has changed over the years. At around the turn of the 21st century, it was more common to see teams of robbers working together. Now, it’s more common to see single robbers or just two working as a team.

One thing most of them have in common is they usually get caught.

“We have a lot of facts, a lot of good witnesses, a lot of cameras and an ability to track people. And that works out to our advantage. It works out poorly for the bank robbers,” said Leising.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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