Are tough economic times driving more to commit crimes?

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Police discuss unsolved robberies

PHOENIX - In these tough financial times, some people are just taking what they want and using a gun to do it.

Now Valley police are on the hunt for some brazen robbers who they consider armed and dangerous. Police say they cannot connect the economy and crime but one is down and the other is up. Investigators are calling it a cold and calculated crime and one that could soon be in stores near you.

At a 7/11 on 24th Street and Thomas two weeks ago, a man put a gun to a clerk's head. The entire thing was caught on surveillance. After the gunman emptied the register, he squeezed the trigger.

Sergeant Paul Penzone says the Valley's Silent Witness Program is working more robberies than ever. While some theorize that a weak economy can push people to the point of pointing a gun, Penzone says that is a hard case to qualify, but not out of the question.

While robbers have targeted everything from convenience stores to fast food joints, in the last two weeks at least four banks in the Valley have also been hit.

According to the FBI, last year Arizona ranked 14th in bank robberies nationwide. In the first six months of this year, the state has climbed to 10th place.

Penzone says part of the reason is more there are more people and more banks. While tough times may make for desperate criminals, some say there is a better chance than ever they will be caught.