FBI says 21 banks robbed in Horry County this year

It seems like every time you turn around this year, another bank in Horry County is being robbed. In the first half of 2011, 30 banks were robbed in South Carolina, and one third of those were in Horry County.

Since that time, robbers have held up 11 more, bringing the county's total to 21.

"It's higher than past, but it's not what it appears when you look at 21 individual banks that have been robbed this year," said FBI special agent Jeff Long. "It appears that this is a real war zone so to speak as far as bank robberies go. But, again as I said if you put it into perspective that it is the same bank robber robbing multiple banks, it makes the numbers not look so bad."

Long investigates bank robberies for the FBI for Horry County. In 2010, 15 banks were robbed in the county and 10 in 2009, he said.

The reason for the increase is that three men, each of whom acted alone, are believed to be responsible for ten of them, said Long.

"It's not that we have people coming here specifically to rob banks. It's actually quite the opposite. A majority of them are being committed by people that live here."

Though the robberies have increased, banks in the county have yet to add new technology to their security measures, he said.

"For customers to have to conduct their business through a bullet proof glass enclosure, It just depersonalizes it. The banks don't want to do that. The customers, I don't think like that type of environment. So, there hasn't been a push here in Myrtle Beach. It is what it is I guess, and it's something I think mostly the banks don't want to do."

In June, while two men robbed the BB&T at 3301 South Highway 17 in Murrells Inlet, they jumped over the counter and tackled a customer.

Despite the violent nature of some of these robberies, no one was seriously hurt in the Horry County robberies this year. But Long says there's always a chance.

"Fortunately, I don't think that's the main reason why someone was going into the bank to begin with unless they are cornered and desperate and there is no way out and then I think the level of violence could escalate."

Long doesn't believe the rise in robberies has any correlation with the struggling economy.

"They are robbing banks to pay for their drug habits. They're not robbing banks to pay the mortgage. They're not robbing banks to pay the food bill, their electricity. They're robbing banks so they can buy their crack cocaine, their heroin, their methamphetamine, their marijuana."

Out of the 21 robberies this year, authorities have made arrests in 13.

Anthony Jennings is accused of robbing two banks in Carolina Forest, one in North Myrtle Beach and one in Conway.

Police say Monroe Eggerling robbed four Horry County banks - including the First Citizens Bank on Socastee Boulevard.

Larry Mcdaniel was arrested for robbing the TD Bank on Sea Mountain Highway and one other bank.

Police arrested Shawn Robert Shane for robbing the TD Bank in Myrtle Beach, and Kyle William Gunther for the First Federal Bank in Murrells Inlet.

Connecticut police arrested James Bieu for a robbery at a Myrtle Beach Bank of America.

Special Agent Long said if you find yourself in a bank robbery stay calm and do your best to be a good witness.