Colorado led the nation in bank thefts in 2022, FBI data shows

Bank Collage

Two Denver-area bank robbers that the FBI has dubbed the Fledgling Bandit, left, and Penguin Bandit. (Federal Bureau of Investigation)

No state had more bank robberies and burglaries per capita than Colorado in 2022.

Figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday reveal that the state’s 155 bank robberies that year trailed only California — a state with a population that is six times larger than Colorado’s — which had 172 bank robberies in 2022.

Colorado also had the second-highest number of bank burglaries: 13, behind only 19 in Illinois. Robberies are thefts inside a bank; burglaries involve a break-in. More than 10 percent of the country’s bank burglaries in 2022 happened here.

“I am not surprised,” said Jenifer Waller, president of the Colorado Bankers Association.

“We often are close to California in the number of bank robberies,” she said Tuesday. “What has been disappointing and concerning is the number of robberies that were violent or threatened violence. Often robberies involve passing a note demanding funds, but the industry experienced more violent robberies in 2022 and 2023.”

Nationwide and in Colorado, bank robberies and burglaries were down between 2021 and 2022. In 2021, Colorado led the nation in bank robberies and burglaries with 209, compared to 168 in 2022. Nationwide there were 1,958 bank thefts in 2021 and 1,736 in 2022.

Three states didn’t have a single bank theft either year: Vermont, Idaho and West Virginia.

But in Colorado, banks are having to make changes to protect customers and employees. 

“Many banks are keeping their doors locked and an individual has to be admitted,” said Waller, a former examiner with the Colorado Division of Banking. “Banks continue to invest in measures to prevent robbery and help identify the perpetrator after a robbery.”

“Our best strategy is well-trained employees,” she said. “Employees often spot an individual casing a bank and are able to prevent the robbery from happening.”

The FBI’s Denver office is currently looking for two bank robbers that it has given insulting monikers to: the “Penguin Bandit” and the “Fledgling Bandit.”

The first, so named for “his distinctive gait that has been described as a waddle,” according to the feds, is accused of robbing three Denver credit unions between Jan. 2 and 9, and casing a fourth. He is a blue-eyed white man, 35 to 45 years old, 6 feet tall and heavy.

The Fledgling Bandit, so named because he “appears to be new” at robbing banks, is accused of robbing four between Boulder and Greenwood Village this winter. He is white or Hispanic, in his 30s, about 5 feet 7 inches and 180 pounds, with brown hair in a fade hairstyle.


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