Over the past 14 months the pandemic has restricted our ability to participate in many activities. But from one perspective this has actually been a blessing, according to the FBI.

George Crouch, special agent in charge of the FBI Field Office in Newark, said the number of bank robberies in the Garden State dropped dramatically.

“We went from 50 in 2019 to 25 in 2020. I think a lot of that was obviously due to the pandemic, a lot of the bank locations being closed," he said.

He said 45 of the 50 bank robberies in 2019 were solved and 23 of the 25 bank heists that took place last year were solved.

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He said anybody who tries to rob a bank these days is pretty desperate.

“We see a lot of folks that are addicted to drugs,” he said. “They need the cash to fuel their habit and they think unfortunately, this is the easy way to go.”

Crouch said so far the fact that everybody is wearing a mask has not made solving bank robberies any more difficult.

“A lot of the banks are only using the drive-up option. It would be interesting to see what would happen if everything was fully open and people were still wearing the masks," he said.

He was quick to add that would-be bank bandits for years have been wearing hats, wigs, fake mustaches and all sorts of other costumes but they are almost always caught.

“Even when people are wearing masks going into the banks, we still end up catching 90% of them," he said. "The mask alone isn’t enough to thwart our investigative activities.”

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