New FBI app helps users stay informed on bank robberies

The FBI Bank Robbers app lets users swipe through the long list of robberies based on type and location. (FBI)

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Bad news for Bonnie and Clyde wannabes — a new app gives the public access to the FBI’s database of bank robbery suspects with the swipe of a finger.

Released last week, the app lists a massive number of suspected bank robbers across the states, complete with their photos, descriptions and even nicknames, if they have one. It’s a modern take on the wanted posters posted at post offices or bus stops, an FBI blog post says.

The app “should make it even easier for the public — as well as financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, and others — to view photos and information about bank robberies in different geographic areas of the country,” the blog says.

A short scroll through the app reveals a long list of criminal suspects, donning disguises like baseball hats, hoodies, motorcycle helmets, surgery masks and skeleton masks. One suspect, “Straw Hat Bandit,” the FBI says is linked to the robberies of 11 Philadelphia-area banks since 2011. In the picture, the suspect is wearing — take a guess — a straw hat. The “bandit” is still on the loose and is suspected to have robbed a bank as recently as July.

The app also includes a map showing where each of the robberies happened, and push notifications let users know when police add robberies near their location to the app.

fbi-app
The app offers users pictures, dates, locations and descriptions associated with thousands of robberies. (FBI)

The FBI hopes the public uses the app to help find the suspects allegedly behind the thousands of bank robberies each year. According to the blog, about 4,000 bank robberies occurred in 2015. Of that number, 137 of them resulted in violent acts, leading to 57 injuries, 66 hostage situations and nine deaths.

The website the app is based on, bankrobbersfbi.gov, has even proved successful in the past. According to the blog, a police department once received a printed page of the website with a handwritten name written across in the mail. Police tracked that name and managed to find and file charges against the suspect.

The FBI has taken to Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to post information about suspects and solicited the public for health. In 2011, the bureau launched also another phone app to let parents record vital information about their children and contact authorities in case of an emergency.

“[W]e focus our investigative resources on those suspects who pose the greatest safety threats to the public and our new Bank Robbers mobile app is another tool we can use to help mitigate those threats,” Gregory Adams, chief of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Unit in Washington, D.C., said in the blog post.

Contact the reporter on this story via email: Jeremy.Snow@FedScoop.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyM_Snow. Sign up for the Daily Scoop — all the federal IT news you need in your inbox every morning — here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Applications & Software, apps, mobile and wireless, mobile apps, mobility, Tech
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