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When the FBI investigates violent crimes

SALT LAKE CITY — Most of the time, violent crimes fall under the jurisdiction of state and local officials. However, the FBI gets involved in certain cases, such as kidnappings and bank robberies, and with violent crimes committed in Indian Country.

Special Agent Jeremy Fowlke investigates violent crimes for the FBI Salt Lake City Division. In the latest episode of FBI Confidential, he explains that most bank robbers don’t display a weapon, but instead, pass a note to a teller saying that they have a weapon.

“Whether there’s a gun or not, the tellers and the victims involved are always traumatized,” Fowlke says.

Bank surveillance video shared by the FBI shows one of the ATMs in the case catching fire, though the would-be robbers never got any money from it.

Fowlke showed video of a pair of local would-be bank robbers who actually tried to blow up ATM machines using propane tanks on several different occasions, but were not successful. The situation, he says, was potentially very dangerous — one reason the FBI released information about these two suspects to local media, in hopes of stopping them before anyone got hurt.


“It’s a huge help,” Fowlke says. “A lot of our arrests come from tips that came from media publicity.”

Co-host Debbie Dujanovic asked Fowlke what the number one motivator is for bank robbers.

“From our experience in Utah, almost all of the bank robberies – bank robbers are driven by heroin or some kind of drug addiction,” Fowlke says. “Almost everyone that we interview tells us afterwards that they were doing it to get money to buy drugs.”

Fowlke says 70% of bank robberies in Utah result in the arrest of those responsible, primarily because of people who recognize the suspect on surveillance images and call in a tip.

“Without tips, it would be so much harder to solve bank robberies,” Fowlke says.

You can sign up for the next round of the FBI Citizens’ Academy in Salt Lake City. Applications are due by July 31, 2018. You can apply here, or nominate someone to attend here. Any questions should be directed to

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