PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation says the recent spike in bank robberies in the area is linked to the opioid epidemic.
According to the FBI, 26 robberies have been reported in the last four months, compared to 19 from last year, and a large majority of the bank robberies happen in Allegheny County and the surrounding counties.
“It’s become pretty evident to us that the current opioid epidemic is playing a large part in these bank robberies,” FBI Agent Glen Galeone said.
That statement comes after the CDC says drug overdose deaths are rising, especially in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
The FBI says once they learn that suspects are drug users, they believe the motive is to help feed the addiction.
“Which is why you see these multiple robberies, you know. They rob a bank, spend the money, once its gone, they’re looking to rob another bank,” Galeone said.
In 2016, coroners and medical examiners in the state reported more than 4,500 drug-related overdose deaths.
The Wolf administration has been taking steps in addressing the opioid epidemic. Among other things, it released the opioid data dashboard that gives data on prevention, rescue and treatment.
“The data dashboard is a living document, so we’re going to continue to refine the dashboard and have news coming in to inform our initiatives, as well as initiatives from other counties and communities and for the public to have completely transparent access to what we’re doing,” Dr. Rachel Levine, the acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary, said.