By Yolanda Rodriguez
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA, Ga. — Los Angeles has its beaches, freeways and mountains. Atlanta has mountains of money.
At least that's what bank robbers appear to think.
The FBI's field office in Atlanta reports that its area has jumped to the top of the list with 351 bank robberies in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
Los Angeles follows with 338 and Philadelphia with 316 bank heists.
The bureau's Atlanta field office includes all of Georgia, so those numbers aren't just for the city itself.
"It's fairly clear that Atlanta as a metro area has grown in population and in geography, and the banks have matched that," said Stephen Emmett, an FBI spokesman in Atlanta.
Among the most notable bank jobs to occur this year was the so-called Barbie Bandits case in February.
The photos of two giggling young women made international headlines. Police said they made off with nearly $11,000 after handing a teller a note at a Bank of America supermarket branch in Acworth.
One pleaded guilty in August. The other is awaiting trial, along with two male co-defendants.
If by chance you happen to be in a bank when it gets hit, the best thing to do is observe, Emmett said. Leave catching the bad guys to the professionals.
"We certainly want bank employees or customers to be vigilant and be good witnesses for law enforcement," Emmett said. "Be vigilant for clothing that might be out of the ordinary: glasses, hats and sunglasses."
* Atlanta (covers all of Georgia) 351
* Los Angeles (covers Southern California) 338
* Philadelphia (covers eastern and middle Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey) 316
* Dallas (covers north Texas and parts of east and west Texas) 297
* Boston (covers New England, except Connecticut and Vermont) 255
* Fiscal year Oct. 1, 2006, to Sept. 30, 2007.
NOTABLE BANK ROBBERIES IN METRO ATLANTA
February 2007: A brazen heist inside a Bank of America supermarket branch in Acworth, pulled off by two young women, smiling behind dark glasses, garners international headlines. Heather Lyn Johnston and Ashley Nicole Miller--- both Gwinnett County high school graduates ---and two men are arrested. Johnston pleads guilty. Miller and the two codefendants are awaiting trial.
March 2007: The Bike Bandit begins a string of 10 bank robberies in the Atlanta area. He makes his getaway by bicycle. Five of his targets are Bank of America branches. He is still on the loose.
Copyright 2007 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta's #1 in bank robberies, says FBI