The analysis of the ill-gotten gains of bank robberies in the UK was carried out by a team of leading researchers from the Universities of Sussex and Surrey.
The team of experts discovered the average raider escapes with is a modest 12,706 pounds, a little less than six month's average salary.
And unlike TV portrayals of bad guys escaping with suitcases stuffed with cash, robbers flee from one in three banks empty handed.
Meanwhile, the risks remain high, with police employing an array of high-tech technology to catch their quarry and judges handing down long jail terms, the Daily Mail reported.
In fact, if a 'struggling' robber carries out a series of raids to boost his income, statistics show he will be caught after four raids and imprisoned.
The researchers used unique access to detailed data from the British Bankers' Association, which included how many robberies were involved and whether they were armed.
Academics found the average total proceeds from a heist in Britain are just 20,331 pounds, with each gang member was left with a typical haul of 12,706 pounds.
Robbers armed with guns stole more money and there is a clear link between the number of raiders and total takings, the bigger the gang, the greater the success.
Each extra gang member raised the overall haul by an average of 9,033 pounds, but the takings per person fell considerably.
The researchers also examined how well security measures, from alarms to staff numbers, worked as a deterrent.
Of these, fast-rising security screens, which shoot up from the counter to block-off staff, are the most effective.
They reduce the chances of a successful robbery by a third but they are only present in one in 10 British banks, probably because they are very expensive.
Professor Neil Rickman, of the University of Surrey, said the research highlights how bank robberies are a "poorly paid career path.
He added that the study did not take into account other costs, such as the social impact of high profile crimes and injuries suffered by victims.
Rickman said the answer to whether crime pays or not depends on your view of whether 20,331 pounds is worth the risk.
"I am sure it pays for a group of criminals who work very hard and do a very professional job," he said.
"Whether it pays for others depends on your view of the sums involved. There are a lot of robberies that do not make anything," he added.