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Armed bank robberies in NYC on the rise

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cds Photo Credit: RJ Mickelson

Armed bank robbers are on track to have a banner year after making a frightening comeback.

Gun-toting thieves have hit up nearly a dozen banks in the first seven weeks of this year — as many as in the first seven months of 2010, FBI stats show.

Despite the surge, last month the NYPD removed its six detectives from the FBI-NYPD Joint Bank Robbery Task Force so they can tackle other crimes. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the redeployment made sense because the number of armed bank robberies last year — 26 — was the lowest in the unit’s history.

No. 1 on the most wanted list is suspect Marat Mikhaylich, the so-called “Holiday Bandit” who’s allegedly pulled off seven jobs in the city since December and another last Friday in New Jersey.

“For some of these guys, it’s a combination of stupidity and desperation” said Barbara Daly, supervisory special agent for the FBI-NYPD Joint Bank Robbery Task Force. She pointed to a case in which a perp got locked inside the bank.

Despite being hard to catch, these robbers leave quite an impression thanks to strange attire ­— such as wearing a Darth Vader mask or cross-dressing.

Daly said it’s not known why the number of bank robberies is on the rise. There’s speculation that a 2008 hike to 444 was due to the souring economy. In 2010, the number fell to 218.

"The squad is working the cases thoroughly and tracking down leads," an FBI spokesman said.

While most of the city’s bank robberies involve unarmed perps, many pretend to pack heat to scare tellers, authorities said.

To combat the heists, banks are employing more guards, greeters and upgrading security systems.

Apple Bank, hit by two armed robberies last month in Brooklyn, is using state-of-the-art alarm and video systems at all of its branches, said Senior Vice President James Matera.

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