Staying Close to the Streets Robbery Detectives Proud of Success
Sweeney, Kathleen, The Florida Times Union
A picture of a robbery suspect is clipped to the sun visor in
the car that has become a traveling office for two Jacksonville
He was one of the men most wanted by these partners of two
years. They think he hit four banks in April.
"If you see him walking down the street, start yelling,"
detective Larry Kuczkowski told his passengers.
On April 30, police said, the man robbed the 14th bank this
year in Jacksonville -- one more than the number of heists
committed last year during the first four months.
Within three days, Timothy Hampton, 37, of the 1600 block of
West 45th Street, was arrested in Georgia on two Jacksonville
warrants for bank robbery. He is being held in a Claxton, Ga.,
jail, refusing to waive extradition. It could take a month to
bring him back to Jacksonville.
He is still a suspect in two other robberies, and once they
charge the man, the robbery unit will have closed its
investigations of 12 of this year's bank robberies.
The robbery unit has a track record of catching most bank
robbers -- one reason the detectives take pride in their work.
The numbers back up their confidence. Last year, they solved 22
of 26. In 1996, they solved 41 of 51 and in 1994, the unit
closed 17 of 25 bank robbery cases.
Lt. Lonnie McDonald, who heads the robbery unit, said the
department's success rate falls on the shoulders of the
"They do a great job," he said, adding they go above just
catching a suspect in a robbery. "They have made it a point to
arrest everyone who is involved."
Detectives rely on confidential informants when a bank is
robbed, McDonald said. They also work with the FBI.
Knowing what makes robbers tick is also crucial to solving
cases. Robbers tend to start off small -- breaking into houses
and businesses -- and eventually graduate to robbing people and
They're career criminals by the time they have reached banks,
said detective John Zipperer, Kuczkowski's partner. But a new
trend has detectives disturbed -- robbers are getting younger,
dropping the average age to 18 or 19.
Of the 766 people arrested in 1997 for robbery, 220 were
juveniles -- nearly 29 percent. In 1996, 39 percent of 344
arrests were juveniles and a year before, 42 percent of 342
arrested for robbery were juveniles. …