Recent rise in robberies leads to Valleywide robbery task force

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Valley taskforce works to combat more bank robbers getting away

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PHOENIX - The following is a press release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

Phoenix FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Nathan Thomas Gray announced today the formation of the FBI's Bank Robbery Task Force.The FBI has partnered with the Maricopa County Sheriff'# s Office, the Mesa Police Department, the Phoenix Police Department, the Scottsdale Police Department, the United States Attorney's Office, and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to collectively investigate, arrest, and seek prosecution of those responsible for robbing banks in the Valley.

We know from past experience the task force concept is an ideal way to combat a particular criminal element such as those who rob banks.When you bring law enforcement resources together they can work effectively and efficiently to reduce that particular criminal element.

From 2007 to 2008 there has been a 28% increase in the number of bank robberies and a projected 34% increase from 2008 to 2009.In 2007 there were 128 bank robberies and in 2008 there were 179. There were 44 bank robberies in 2008 from January 1 to May 1.During the same period in 2009, there were 88 bank robberies.If we continue to have bank robberies at the current rate, we are projecting approximately 271 bank robberies for 2009.

It is our intention to decrease this year's projected number of bank robberies with the formation of the Bank Robbery Task Force.

This task force will be the focal point of disseminating intelligence to the greater law enforcement community as it pertains to bank robberies and identifying those committing the robberies.This partnership will be a force multiplier in bringing together various levels of experience and resources from local, state, and federal agencies.

The FBI's Bank Robbery Task Force was initiated in January of this year and we have been at full strength since February.A recent success for our task force is last week's arrest of Mirsad Dogic, age 22, and Aaron Ramirez, age 19, who have been identified as the "Black Hat Bandits." The "Black Hat Bandits" have allegedly committed a total of 14 bank robberies primarily in Phoenix and Peoria since December 5, 2008.

"The act of robbing a bank places bank employees and customers at risk.Victim tellers often come face to face with the bank robber and in many occasions they suffer emotional distress" said SAC Gray, "The FBI will continue to work together with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners in identifying, arresting, and prosecuting bank robbers in the Valley."

"We will work with our partners at FBI, the County, and our local police agencies to fully investigate and prosecute bank robbers to the fullest extent of the law," said Diane J. Humetewa, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona."We consider every bank robbery a violent crime that puts the public and police at risk."The U.S. Attorney also reminded those who may be involved in planning or carrying out bank robberies, "We will prosecute everyone who conspires to commit a bank robbery, regardless of their role."

"The County Attorney's Office appreciates the opportunity to be part of this task force.Our office has many seasoned prosecutors who make it a point to ensure dangerous criminals get appropriate sentences" said Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

"As a former federal law enforcement official, I understand how important it is for local and federal agencies to work together" said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

"Bank Robbery is a valley wide problem; most offenders repeat their crimes and commit robberies in various jurisdictions.It is critical to the success of these investigations and apprehension of offenders that the various Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies work together" said Lieutenant Craig Chrzanowski, Scottsdale Police Department.