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Bank Robbery "Best Practices"

New York City has been hit hard by bank robberies. As a result, the New York Bankers Association, at the behest of the New York City Police Department, adopted a 15-point list of "Best Practices" to help deter bank robberies and aid in the apprehension of bank bandits. Review the list to determine what you could change or improve within your institution.

  • Closed Circuit Television Systems (CCTV): High quality digital equipment to capture faces of persons transacting business at teller stations and other key locations, such as entrances and exits. Cameras should be positioned to ensure a full frontal photograph is obtained of perpetrators. Use digital recording systems capable of easy viewing and retrieval of high quality images (i.e., a sufficient number of pixels for improved zoom capabilities), and of transferring the images to a portable form of media such as CD-R or DVD with a minimum amount of technical knowledge. Video surveillance systems of the bank floor/teller areas and ATM area should be aligned properly.

    Those banks or branches which do not yet have digital equipment installed, should have CCTV analog equipment and/or 35 millimeter cameras in sufficient quantities and of sufficient quality to accomplish the identification and coverage goals described above. When installing replacement or additional equipment, banks should install high quality digital equipment. Once digital equipment is installed, banks should additionally consider the use of 35 millimeter cameras, to allow bank personnel to capture images of robberies in progress.

  • Lighting/Cameras: Cameras or interior lighting positioned so lighting does not interfere with processing images of perpetrators captured on security video, or in the development of 35 mm film.

  • Bullet-resistant bandit barriers: Bandit barriers to protect bank personnel from direct threats and provide a higher degree of security and deterrence. Where banks have instituted a cashless environment, alternatives to bandit barriers may be in order.

  • Employees to greet customers: Security guards, customer service representatives or greeters to engage customers by greeting them as they enter the branch, should be utilized at a minimum on a floating basis to provide a plain view security presence, not necessarily at predictable times. This practice has been found to be an effective tool in deterring robberies.

  • Dye packs/serialized currency: Dye packs and serialized currency are strongly recommended as potential aids in prevention, apprehension and prosecution efforts.

  • Height markers: Height markers at doorways to help establish perpetrator’s height.

  • Direct telephone numbers: Bank branch direct telephone numbers provided to the Major Case Squad and Joint Bank Robbery Task Force to enhance their ability to obtain information expeditiously in the event of a robbery.

  • Employee training: Employees trained to trigger alarms and security cameras, as soon as reasonably possible to both protect the safety of customers and employees and facilitate apprehension of the robber. Employees should also be trained to call 911 as soon as reasonably possible to provide detailed description of perpetrator and direction of flight.

  • Employee instructions: Employees instructed to limit amount of currency surrendered, to cover dye packs if utilized, with $50 and $100 denominations, to retain demand note when possible, and to minimize contamination of evidence and crime scene. The use of bait or decoy money should also be considered as potential aids in prevention, apprehension and prosecution efforts.

  • Unobstructed views: Employees’ views of teller area should be unobstructed.

  • Signage: In addition to the signage required by the ATM Safety Act, additional signage regarding bank security, (for example signage placed conspicuously, indicating the presence of surveillance equipment and/or FBI signage) should be utilized.

  • Alarm systems: Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards for Central Station Extent #2 to include hold-up alarm buttons at each teller’s workstation as well as other key points throughout the bank.

  • Safes/vaults: UL listed classifications for burglary resistant containers. Vaults/safes rated for tool and torch resistance level based on amount of currency held.

  • Bank/NYPD Communications: All banks should be connected to the Crime Prevention/Area Police Private Security Liaison (A.P.P.L.) program. [Editor's Note: Determine what liaison programs may exist in your jurisdiction.]

  • Enhancement of A.P.P.L. Email alert system: Bank supported enhancements to current A.P.P.L. e-mail alert system to include cross institutional/police video communication (including bank-to-police car video communication), to disseminate immediate notifications of bank robberies or attempted robberies and suspect information. This could prove successful in apprehending suspects who, when rebuffed at one location, target another bank until successful.
The recommendations were originally issued in May, 2003. Four months later, in September, the New York State Banking Superintendent and the Commission of the NYC Police Department indicated that those institutions which had adopted all of the practices and applied them universally in all branches had experienced no bank robberies.

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