PHOENIX - Federal investigators say they’ve seen an increase in the number of bank robberies in the past year.
"We've seen a 26% increase at this time, year to date, since 2020," said FBI Special Agent Daniel Horan.
At least 20 recent bank robberies in the Phoenix area have been linked to a handful of serial robbers. FBI officials also say 17 separate bank robberies in the Phoenix metro area in the last few months are linked to three different suspects.
Of the three suspects, one of them was arrested last week, and the search is ongoing for two other suspects: one nicknamed the "Piggy Bank Bandit," and the other the "Back Again Bandit."
The "Piggy Bank Bandit" (left) and the "Back Again Bandit" suspects (FBI)
"The 'Piggy Bank Bandit' has hit four different jurisdictions and six banks right now," said Special Agent Horan.
The suspect was nicknamed the "Piggy Bank Bandit," after he got away with a bagful of rolled coins during his first robbery.
The FBI is also looking for a serial robbery suspect who has struck five times so far.
"This bank robber seems to be hitting the same exact bank, over and over," said Special Agent Horan.
Officials say the "Back Again Bandit" hit a US Bank location inside a Tempe Fry’s grocery store twice, and another US Bank inside a Phoenix Safeway grocery store three times.
Investigators say suspects find it easier to go unnoticed as a result of mask use requirements that were put in place because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"Before the pandemic, robbers would try to cover themselves up," said Special Agent Horan. "If they walked into the bank with a mask on, they’d be asked to leave. Now, if you walk into a bank without a mask on, you’ll be asked to leave."
While there are no reported injuries connected to the recent spate of bank robberies, the wanted suspects are considered armed and dangerous.
"It’s a crime of desperation," said Special Agent Horan. "We don’t know the backstories of these people, or what state of mind they’re in when they’re robbing these banks."
Anyone with information should leave an anonymous tip by calling Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS. Spanish speakers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Testigo Silencioso at 480-TESTIGO.
Si tiene alguna información sobre este caso, llame a la línea de Testigo Silencioso (480-TESTIGO, 480-837-8446).
Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news: