Should you rob a bank?

I was heartbroken the first time I realised that a life of crime involved just as much hard work as a life of hard work (age 15, several months into my first real job as a check-out chick).

Some economists in the UK recently backed that up with proper data, saying “the return on an average bank robbery is, frankly, rubbish.”

“The typical haul for a UK bank robbery during 2005-08, the years their data covered, was a mere $31,700, with a third of the robberies yielding nothing at all. Bank robbers are more likely than not to work with a partner or two, bringing the typical haul per robber down to $19,800.” On average, you’ll end up in prison after four robberies.

Having a gun increases your haul, but drastically increases your sentence. (The most effective defence is those fly-up screens, but only 1 in 10 banks have them because they end up costing more than most banks lose in robberies.)

“It’s enough to make the aspiring bank robber wonder if he or she should get into drug dealing instead. Don’t even think about it: Research by sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, who ingratiated himself into a position where he could observe the financial workings of a Chicago gang as a grad student in the early 90s, found that only those on the top of the gang hierarchy actually made anything approaching a decent income from selling drugs. The typical street corner drug dealer made an average of $3.30 an hour.

“Over the course of 4 years, Venkatesh discovered, low-level drug dealers were arrested roughly 6 times on average and had a one in four chance of being killed. Most of them worked minimum-wage “straight” jobs to supplement their drug-dealing income.” Source (Time mag)

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