The FBI has begun collecting tips on the names of unidentifiable bank robbery suspects through a new Google map that pictures heists nationwide, bureau officials announced this week.
The new site, bankrobbers.fbi.gov, shows visitors the location of incidents down to the street level, as well as the traditional Wanted poster photos and physical descriptions. Users can search by location, weapon used and the unidentified robber’s nickname, among other clues, to help authorities ascribe names to faces.
The site is intended to protect citizens from gun violence, not just financial losses, FBI officials said in a statement. “Many bank robberies are committed using verbal demands or notes; however, the use of weapons and threats of violence are also common,” they said.
According to FBI statistics, 49 bank robberies occurred in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia during 2012. That marks a new low for the bureau, which tallied 80 raids in 2011. Last year’s count was the lowest in more than a decade.
While the bureau has hard figures on nationwide bank robberies, other crimes are harder for the feds to count. FBI statistics do not measure cybercrimes and other offenses that have arisen since reporting began in 1930. Late last year, Justice Department officials convened the first meeting in more than 80 years to decide on the best crime labels and incident characteristics to track.
Tweets during the meeting indicate cops want crime statistics to better illustrate quality of life at the local level: “Commissioner Ramsey: ‘crime data must tell a story about community safety,’” Deputy Assistant Attorney General James Burch typed, referencing comments by Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Charles Ramsey.