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Italian banks are losing lots of money, but at least it’s not because they’re getting robbed

Bank vault
AP Photo/Mark Gormus
Could Italian bank robbers be worried about empty vaults?
By Roberto A. Ferdman
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Italian banks aren’t safe investments these days. But they are getting safer in at least one way.

In 2007, half of Europe’s bank robberies happened in Italy. In 2009, the country still accounted for 42% of the continent’s bank thefts. And in 2010, the country still reigned as the capital of bank heists. Yet last year, amid the worst of the European financial crisis and an historically tough year for Italy’s banking sector, robberies didn’t merely fall in the country—they plunged.

Bank robberies in Italy fell by almost 15% last year, from 1,097 in 2011 to just 940 in 2012, according to OSSIF, an Italian agency that monitors bank safety.

Italian news site The Local suggested that cash-strapped Italians may simply be aware that banks are cash-strapped themselves, citing Standards and Poor’s report that Italy’s banks cut €44 billion ($57.59 billion) in credit to Italian firms last year. But that’s mere speculation. The $900 million-plus a year banks pay for antitheft equipment might be a more promising place to look for answers.

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