It may be rare to see a female bank robber like Norma Balderas-Dehernandez sentenced today in federal court in Trenton for holding up a trio of banks in Passaic County. But authorities say the ranks of bank-robbing women are rising in step with the overall number of holdups.
NEWSBREAK : (ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT ) : Another female bank robber unsuccessfully tried to hit a Clifton bank this morning, hours before another woman was sentenced to 30 months in prison for holdups in the same town. CLICK HERE….
From Tampa to San Diego to St. Louis, authorities within just the past few weeks have issued bulletins bearing photos of women robbing banks, hoping someone will recognize the bandits.
And they usually are: FBI stats show that three of every four bank robbers are caught. The bureau makes the crimes a priority, and the U.S. government makes the sentences stiff: up to 25 years, in some instances.
That time is served, too: There’s no parole in the federal prison system.
Talk about equal opportunity.
Balderas-Dehernandez, 35, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Balderas-Dehernandez, who apparently owned a shop in Jersey City, admitted to three holdups last year: at the American Bank of New Jersey ($5,000) and the at the PNC Bank in Clifton ($760), and at the Capital One Bank in Passaic ($2,400). As part of her sentence, U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano ordered her to pay back the banks.
In each case,
Balderas-Dehernandez told Pisano earlier this year, she gave the teller a note in Spanish that demanded money, saying she had a gun. She was in the middle of a fourth holdup at a different PNC Bank branch in Clifton when a financial consultant who recognized her from the photos issued by authorities called police, then stalled the woman until they got there.
Her motive resembles those of other female stickup artists: She was in financial trouble, she had a carefully written note (but no gun) and she didn‘t expect to get caught.
“They need diapers for the baby — that kind of thing,” said Rosemary Erickson, a South Dakota forensic sociologist and security consultant.
It’s different for guys, who’ve said they needed to feed addictions from drugs to gambling, or simply did it for the thrill.
The 6 to 10 percent of all bank robbers who are women believe they’re committing a “fairly safe kind of crime to commit in terms of personal risk,” said Robert McCrie, a professor of security management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.
Some get nicknames, which experts say help keep their images in the public eye — from the glamorous “Starlet Bandit” who robbed a California bank to Atlanta’s giggling “Barbie Bandits” to the “Cell Phone Bandit,” who hit four banks in Virginia, all while talking on her cell phone, several years ago.
Others, meanwhile, break the stereotype: Two Colorado women are accused of bursting into a bank there, pointing guns, before fleeing with a bag of cash. They were later arrested.
Balderas-Dehernandez was one of those who hit the well too often. The day she was arrested, Clifton police said, they already had received a report that she’d been spotted in town.
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