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Semafor LogoKarina Tsui
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Denmark had zero bank robberies for the first time ever in 2022

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Title iconThe News

For the first time ever, Denmark went a whole year without a single bank robbery in 2022, as experts say there is a growing shift away from cash.

A person rides a bicycle past a Danske Bank branch in Copenhagen, Denmark.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
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In 2000, there were 221 bank robberies — almost one for every banking day, according to Finans Danmark, the country's interest organization for banks.

Since 2017, there have been fewer than 10 bank robberies per year, and in 2021 there was only one.

Finans Danmark attributed the decline in robberies to banks' coordinated efforts to shore up security, as well as Denmark's increasingly cashless society.

In March last year, the country's central bank reported that the use of cash had fallen to 12% in 2021, and that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the move away from cash.

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Thanks to increased monitoring, there were also zero ATM thefts in person in 2022, Finans Danmark said. In 2016, there were 18 ATM robberies. Many of those attacks included blowing up machines, placing passersby and residents at risk of being injured.

Title iconquoteworthy

“It’s nothing short of amazing. Because every time it happens, it’s an extreme strain on the employees involved,” said Steen Lund Olsen, the vice president of the finance workers' union, Finansforbundet.

“It’s something you can’t even begin to understand the emotional impact of if you haven’t experienced it yourself,” he said.

Title iconStep Back

Physical robberies have been replaced to a large extent by online banking fraud over the past five to eight years, Finans Danmark said. These are less risky for criminals and still yield large dividends.

According to the U.S. firm Advisen, which advises on data and security, banks have suffered losses of roughly 12 billion dollars due to cybercrime since 2000.

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Title iconThe View From United States

In the U.S., the number of physical bank robberies is at its lowest in half a century.

Experts say that this is partly because cyber heists are much more lucrative, and the penalties are not as severe.

According to a 2016 government report on credit card fraud offenses, convicted credit card offenders took in over $60,000 on average and were given a prison sentence of a little over two years.

Title iconThe View From Lebanon

In September 2022, an armed woman staged a bank robbery in Beirut to access her own savings, which, like many citizens' money, had been devalued and trapped in banks for almost three years through Lebanon's crippling economic crisis.

The raid, which was streamed live on Facebook depicted Sali Hafiz yelling at employees to release a sum of money, while entrances to the bank were sealed.

“I am Sali Hafiz, I came today… to take the deposits of my sister who is dying in hospital,” she said. “I did not come to kill anyone or to start a fire… I came to claim my rights.”

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