Having met and interviewed over 300 convicted bank and credit union robbers, I have identified a couple of common threads. The first is that every institution is cased. No potential robber comes into a town, approaches the very first financial institution they come across and makes a decision to rob that branch. The potential criminal is likely to take at least one of these steps: drive by several times deciding where to park their get-a-way vehicle; walk by the building a number of times trying to get a feel for its layout; enter the branch and request a roll of quarters for a $10 bill while they are checking out the facility; act as though they are filling out a deposit slip at the island only to walk back out as if they forgot something; meet with a loan officer under the guise of an interested borrower; or sit in nearby restaurant timing patrol cars and response time The bottom line is that every institution is cased to some extent and employees need to be aware of suspicious activities- anything that is out of the ordinary.
The majority of the people that come into your institutions are legitimate customers that you see every day, every week or every month. These are not the people that should concern you. It is those you have never seen before that should cause you worry. Make it a policy that if any employee sees an individual they do not recognize enter your institution (and if they are not in the middle of some type of transaction), approach that individual, extend a hand, and say, “Thank you for visiting our branch. What can we do for you today?” That alone may keep the potential robber from choosing your institution- the last thing a criminal wants is someone looking them in the eye and getting a good description. Your legitimate customer will love it as fantastic customer service; potential robbers will deem that as reason enough to head down the road.
The second common thread I found in interviewing convicted robbers was the importance of male presence in the lobby. The potential robber fears someone who may play “Joe Hero” and try to thwart what they are attempting. I walked into dozens of institutions with every intent of committing that robbery only to walk up to the teller, hand the person a $10 bill, and ask for a roll or quarters based on male presence. If you are unable to keep a male presence in your institution consistently, make sure you have a male presence on Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Fifty percent or more of all robberies occur between these hours on this particular day of the week. Whether that person is a teller of the bank or the President, a male must be visible in the lobby during this time frame.