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NEW WEB SITE UNVEILED TO HELP PROFILE CHICAGO AREA BANK ROBBERS

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was joined today by Jody P. Weis, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Thomas Dart, Cook County Sheriff, in announcing the establishment of a new Internet web site, Bandit Tracker Chicago, that will be used to help aid in the investigation and solution of the record number of bank robberies in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The new web site is a joint effort of the three law enforcement agencies that comprise the Chicago FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF) and Electronic Tracking Systems (ETS), a Dallas, Texas based leader in bank and financial institution security systems.  Similar web sites have already been launched, with great success, in other parts of the country to help combat the rise in bank robberies.

The first of the bandit tracker sites was designed in 2007 by the FBI, ETS and the North Texas Crime Commission.  The sites are a simple and effective way to publicize four-color photos and descriptions of robbery suspects and receive exposure on more than a dozen Internet search engines. To date, Bandit Tracker sites have received over 250,000 visits with photographs of 5 million suspects viewed by the public.

“We are very pleased that the ETS-facilitated Community Coalition, consisting of financial institutions, law enforcement agencies and our company can provide the unique support offered by the Bandit Tracker site to aid our law enforcement partners in Chicago” commented Jon Gergen, President and Chief Executive Officer of SM/ETS.

The Chicago focused web site, www.bandittrackerchicago.com, will have up-to-date photographs and descriptions of suspects in bank robberies committed throughout the five-county metropolitan Chicago area that is covered by the FBI’s Chicago office.

In unveiling this new web site, Mr. Grant said, “By employing 21st century technology, we hope to more effectively use our limited resources to address what appears to be a growing crime problem in the Chicago area, both in terms of frequency and violence.  As with most investigations conducted by law enforcement, the public’s help is an invaluable resource that we must seek and take full advantage of in combating this issue.”

Superintendent Weis added, “This new website will be a very effective tool for identifying and apprehending bank robbers as it provides
 24-hour access to both the public and the news media. Viewers can see who the robbery suspects are and where the crimes occurred, as well as provide information to law enforcement on a confidential basis around the clock.”

“The use of bank surveillance video has been a hugely successful tool in solving many bank robberies,” Sheriff Dart said. “Inviting the public to now bring a fresh set of eyes to these images can only help us build on the success our team has already seen.”

Bank robberies in the Chicago area have been a growing problem for law enforcement in the past few years. The current record of 284 was set in 2006, while last year’s total of 277 was the second highest number recorded in Chicago history.  However, over 200 robberies have been recorded in each of the past four years, the only time that number has ever been reached.  Of even greater concern to law enforcement has been the increase in the number of serial bank robbers and the rise in the frequency of armed “take-over” robberies, both of which have already led to violent confrontations.

The Chicago FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force, which investigates the bulk of bank robberies in the Chicago area, is comprised of FBI Special Agents, Detectives from the CPD and Investigators from the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department.

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