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Why do so many armored car robberies happen in Houston? One reason – our network of freeways

The FBI, HPD and armored car companies
Credit: KHOU
Last year, half the armored car robberies in the U.S. happened here in Houston.

HOUSTON — Last year, half the armored car robberies in the U.S. happened here in Houston.

It's a staggering percentage.

A couple of things – first some perspective. Convenience store and cell phone store robberies happen far more often.

Last year, nationwide there were 26 armored car robberies. However, they are often very violent, and yes, 50 percent happen here in Houston.

Crime scene tape, shell casings, weapons and more litter the scene of armored car robberies. Why do so many happen in Houston? One reason – our network of freeways.

“It also allows bad guys exit avenues, so generally, what we've seen of those 13, almost all of them happen with a mile or two of those major thorough fares,” FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Coughlin said.

Usually, the robbers are locals who know the streets. 

Four attacks here in the last four months ended in gunfire, with a guard killed, a suspect killed, and another suspect wounded. 

That kind of violence grabs headlines. A $105,000 reward still exists to find the killers of Brinks guard Alvin Kinney from 2015. 

MORE ON ARMORED CAR ROBBERIES

Crooks are usually sophisticated ex-cons, who operate in groups.

“You see groups of four, five sometimes as much as six or eight,” Sgt. David Helms with HPD’s Violent Crime Task Force, said. “By the time they get out, they're older and they're looking to hit that big score, and I think they believe that's in the armored truck.”

FBI and HPD experts say not so much.

“We have had some armored car robberies where the money that was stolen is less than $1,000 or $500 in quarters,” Coughlin said.

Helms that stealing bags of coin is not an easy thing to do.

“That's heavy it’s kinda hard to run with...we've caught those people,” Helms said.

To help combat this, the FBI, HPD and armored car companies are working together. They say in the last three years after they've identified a suspect that individual is arrested and has never robbed a second armor car.

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