As the bank employees union conferred with the public order minister yesterday on ways of confronting a drastic increase in bank heists this year, a robber stole 44,000 euros at gunpoint from a bank in eastern Attica and escaped on a motorbike. The attack on the Piraeus Bank branch in Paeania was the 120th so far this year, just one robbery short of the five-year record set in 1998. According to Dimitris Kouselas, chairman of the bank employees union (OTOE), robberies had been on a decline since 1998, until this year. Only 13 of 1998’s 121 robberies were solved. There were 69 robberies (27 solved) in 1999, 64 in 2000 (35 solved), 57 in 2001 (34 solved) and, by October 31 2002, 116 (37 solved). There were three robberies this month, all solved. Kouselas said Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis promised to lay on an extra 500 police guards for banks in Attica over the Christmas holidays, and to appoint a committee to propose answers to the problem by mid-December. OTOE also wants banks to improve security by installing bullet-proof glass, metal detectors and doors to trap fleeing robbers.