Investigators believe that the bandit, 25-year-old Nilsa Marie Urena, was involved in at least 9 bank robberies over the past three months.
“As the bank teller gathered the money (to provide to the bank robber), the robber stated to the teller that she would pray for her and also reiterated that the bomb would go off at any time,” Clayton County Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said in a press release after Urena’s first robbery.
She earned her unique nickname because she reportedly told bank tellers that she was robbing them “for the movement.” She seemed to think of herself as a sort of Robin Hood figure, stealing from banks to fund herself, a member of the oppressed class.
It’s entitled Millennial logic run amok. Urena terrorized innocent people and took money that wasn’t hers, yet she still managed to justify herself. She robbed the banks “for the streets.”
Her crime spree began on October 30 at an Atlanta Wells Fargo. She shoved a demand note into the teller’s hand and ran out when she wasn’t given the cash. Instead of giving up her crazed idea, she drove 20 miles and successfully robbed a credit union.
“One thing we’re convinced of is she’s not going to stop,” FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said during a news conference last December. “She looks pretty average, but she is very bold.”
Robbing banks is a losing proposition. Urena was unusually lucky, she was only failed to get the cash once. Like most bank robbers, however, she was quickly captured. She barely had time to enjoy the fruits of her crimes before she was in handcuffs.
“Technology has allowed the banks to provide a variety of different defenses to bank robberies,” Michael Osborn, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI/NYPD Joint Violent Crimes Task Force, told The New York Post.
“The FBI and NYPD are collaborating on all levels to maximize resources dedicated to bank-robbery investigations… We are proactive in collecting and analyzing intelligence, and then sharing the information with area banks.”
Banks have multiple sophisticated lines of defense. Anyone who’s smart enough to successfully rob a bank and evade the FBI is smart enough to do something else for their money.
“With all the technology out there helping cops solve bank robberies, one would have to ask, why are they still trying?” Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD detective sergeant and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said.
“People still think that banks have hundreds of thousands stuffed in tiny drawers by the tellers. Here’s a news flash for would-be robbers — they don’t… I can guarantee one thing, if you rob a bank, you will be on the television, newspaper and shared all over social media. You’ll be famous for a short period of time.”
Urena’s crime wasn’t remarkable in the specifics. She never brandished a gun, instead, she handed over threatening notes and told bank tellers that she had a bomb.
According to a report by U.S. News, “in 2010, 16 people were killed during bank robberies—13 of them were the perpetrator. Of the 5,500 American bank robberies in 2010 only 1,445—about a quarter—involved a gun. Most commonly, perpetrators used a demand note or the threat of a weapon, without actually showing one.”
Bank robberies are crimes of desperation. People who think rationally about the future usually realize that it’s a high-risk, low-yield crime.
“The return on an average bank robber is, frankly, rubbish,” reads the U.S. News report. “It’s so low that it is not worth the banks’ while to spend as little as [$7,000] per cashier position at every branch on rising screens to deter them.”
Crime in 2018 is taking on a new form. Technology is advancing at a far faster rate than criminals. Banks have figured out a myriad of new ways to protect themselves, but criminals have only come up with a couple of new attacks. Traditional bank robberies may soon become a relic of the past.
Urena is currently being held on bail. Multiple people connected to her crimes have been arrested as well, including two teenage boys. The boys told investigators everything they needed to know when they were caught, ultimately leading to Urena’s arrest.
Successful banking robbing sprees are rare.