Why the Holland Village robbery doesn’t make financial sense

Wow… so huge news. Someone successfully robbed a bank in Singapore and there’s going to be a manhunt. A manhunt as in a hunt for a criminal. This is really rare in Singapore. I mean, this is so rare that the first image for manhunt Singapore on Google returns me this:

Argghhh my eyes

Argghhh my eyes

Lots of people are commenting that the criminal got away with essentially free money since he managed to rob the bank in broad daylight with just a note. So let’s  use some calculations to determine how well the robber actually did.

Comparing the statistics of bank robbery

So according to The Straits Times, the robber made off with S$30,000. And the last time a similar robbery happened was in 2004 where a guy with a fruit knife(?!) made off with S$37,000.

American robbers actually do much worse, only getting $10,025 (S$13,518) on average, according to the FBI. They boast a higher success rate, however: 90% of attempted heists in America netted cash— compared to 66% in Britain.

With the data above, the Singaporean robber has actually made off with more than their average American counterparts.

Calculating the risk of bank robberies in Singapore

A person convicted of robbery can be punished with a jail term of between 2-10 years and caning.

Assuming we take an average of
1) Average jail term of: 6 years
2) Median salary of Singaporean: S$3,949 http://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Income-Summary-Table.aspx
3) Chance of getting caught: 50% (The 2004 robber wasn’t caught, I’ll assume the 2016 one will get caught)

That’s an opportunity cost of 6 x 12 x $3,949 x 50%= S$142,164

Cost benefit analysis

This is one instance where crime literally doesn’t pay off.

To put it in context, S$30,000 is:
1) less than 8 months of work at median pay
2) less than the cost of a 5-star hotel wedding banquet
2) less than the down-payment for a HDB flat.

And the potential risk of S$142,164 far outweighs the possibility of money gained.

Sidenote: Should banks install better security?

There are cool gadgets out there that make it harder for the men in masks to rob banks. There’s a tech that can drive up metal screens using compressed air that will seal off the bank teller and money in half a second.

But since they cost a hefty S$6000 per bank teller, installing just five will be more than the average loss from a robbery. None of the bank robberies in Singapore resulted in fatalities or injuries so there isn’t a question of protecting the teller from harm.

In conclusion, don’t rob banks.

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