With so much media emphasis on cybercrime, you may think an old-fashioned bank robbery was a thing of the past. Unfortunately, you would be wrong.
The FBI’s most recent bank crime statistics indicate quite the contrary. In 2011 alone, just over 5000 banks were robbed across the U.S. Of that total, 4,800 (a full 96 percent) occurred in banks’ branch offices. And therefore, there is still an ongoing need to increase security in brick-and-mortar banking establishments — particularly in smaller, more vulnerable branches. Here are three tips you can count on to help keep your branch safe.
1. Increase the criminal’s perception of risk
Here’s a fascinating bit of information coming straight from a former bank robber: a simple gesture of welcome is often enough to send a criminal looking for another target. The reason? Criminals need to stay anonymous. If they attract the notice of bank staff in any way, chances are they’ll simply leave.
Firm eye contact from a security guard or bank representative accompanied by a friendly greeting along the lines of “Good morning! How can we help you today?” can actually cause a criminal to feel nervous and uncomfortable enough to choose a less alert victim. So training staff to deliver prompt, friendly customer service is actually an important component of your security. And as a bonus, your customers will appreciate the personal attention they receive.
2. Reduce the amount of exposed cash
In any bank, the teller window with its traditional cash drawer below the counter is the most vulnerable to robbery. To reduce the amount of risk to bank employees and deter criminals, the practical option is to simply limit the amount the amount of cash that can be accessed by bank employees.
In a retail environment, a smart safe is a great choice. But for a bank where large amounts of cash are withdrawn as well as deposited, the best and most secure solution is a cash recycler. Using a cash recycler eliminates the teller drawer completely. In the unfortunate event of a robbery attempt, it also limits a teller’s ability to give cash away. A cash recycler can even help a branch reduce their cash shipments and armored car runs, which eliminates yet another area of vulnerability.
3. Increase the likelihood of apprehension
It’s important to note that bank surveillance cameras do not appear to have a deterrent effect on would-be bank robbers. But if, despite your best efforts, your branch is the victim of a robbery, a high-quality system of surveillance cameras will provide law enforcement agencies with valuable information that can help bring your robber to justice. As an additional benefit, video surveillance can also be instrumental in recovering smaller losses from crimes like check fraud and unauthorized ATM withdrawals.
As a final note, be aware that some branches may be better targets than others. If your location or the amount of cash you handle makes you more vulnerable to a robbery attempt, take the extra precautions needed to keep you and your employees safe.
I'd love to hear your suggestions, comments and tips on ways to keep the bank branch secure.