In Mexico City last week, all banks in Chihuahua state closed for an hour in protest at the growing number of bank robberies, while in Ciudad Jimenez they closed all day. The 250 banks in Chihuahua suffered 49 robberies last year and 16 in the first 11 weeks of this year. The final straw was when policemen robbed a bank that they were supposed to be guarding, shooting the manager and injuring a cashier.

In San Francisco a fortnight ago, an attempted bank robbery was foiled when a cashier handed over $2,400 in a bag that contained a sack of dye. When the dye exploded, the robber dropped it and ran. But he came back the next day and robbed the same bank of $600. A San Francisco police spokesman commented: "We've had people do the same banks, but not two days in a row."

In Brisbane, a conman was sentenced to five years in jail after paying for a wedding reception with a cheque stolen from one of the guests. The following day, he also stole the guest's car. "You have added new meaning to the word contemptible," the judge said when passing sentence.