Rome, Italy (CNN) -- Italy has the highest rate of bank robberies in Europe, an Italian study said this week.
Of the 4,150 bank robberies that were reported in Europe in 2009, 1,744 -- or 42 percent -- were done in Italy, according to the study, which was carried out by the Italian bank watchdog Osservatorio and a trade union, CISL.
Northern Italian cities, including Milan and Turin, saw the highest numbers of bank robberies, said the study, which was released Wednesday.
One of the reasons Italy sees so many robberies is high cash liquidity, it said.
The majority of robberies involve direct intimidation, including kidnapping the relatives of a bank employee, the study said. The result for staff is absenteeism, low productivity, difficulty concentrating, disturbed sleep, an anxious state of mind, complications in personal relationships, and irritability, it said.
The amount of money lost from bank theft in Italy in 2009 was 36.8 million euros ($48 million), the Italian Association of Banks (ABI) calculated.
ABI has carried out its own studies of the bank robbery phenomenon, the Italian daily La Stampa reported. It found that in two out of every three robberies, the thieves made off with about 15,000 euros ($18,600) and took less than three minutes.
It also found thieves preferred to use small knives and paper cutters as weapons, and that most robberies happened on Mondays and Fridays.
The Osservatorio-CISL study and the one by ABI said Italian banks spend more than 700 million euros ($870 million) every year on anti-theft equipment such as closed-circuit cameras and alarms.
CNN's Hada Messia contributed to this report