Have you seen these suspects?
Updated April 1, 2014
Be on the lookout for the individuals pictured in our collection of bank robbery suspect photos from banks robbed in the last month.
Print out and post the pics, or circulate them to your frontline staff. See the latest additions to the ROGUE'S GALLERY OF UNKNOWN ROBBERY SUSPECTS.
Hunted and Captured
Be vewwy, vewwy quiet...We caught a wabbit. Charged with robbing four banks and the attempted robbery of a fifth bank in Illinois, 40-year-old Todd Berkley of Clarkson, KY (AKA the "Elmer Fudd Bandit") has been indicted on all five counts. Berkley was dubbed the Elmer Fudd Bandit for the plaid flannel shirts and cap he wore during his heists at three TCF Bank branches and a Charter One Bank branch in Chicago, and an attempted robbery at a TCF Bank branch in Des Plaines. During the Des Plaines attempt, Berkley reportedly approached the shift supervisor and said, "Give me all your money or Iíll blow your head off," then handed the banker a notepad containing the words "Give me all your money." Berkley was arrested in Kentucky in November 2012 after robbing a U.S. Bank branch in Louisville on November 1, 2012, for which he was subsequently charged and is currently awaiting court dates for in Kentucky. Each of the charges filed against Berkley carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Maxed Out - The infamous John Dillinger and his "gang" robbed two dozen banks during the Great Depression. Michael "Max" Mitchell, a 21-year-old "outlaw" from Buffalo, NY, may have usurped Dillinger in his claim to fame. In what the U.S. Attorney is calling one of the biggest bank robbery rings ever, Mitchell and a dozen of his hired hands are allegedly behind more than 25 bank heists in New York. Mitchell, believed to be the ring leader, recruited primarily young men and women who were easily influenced, instructed his recruits on how to execute the robberies, and possibly even threatened them into acting. All of the robberies contained similarities in the language used in demand notes, which often described a specific caliber of weapon in the robberís possession, included instructions on how much money to hand over, and contained warnings advising the tellers not to look at the robber and not to activate bank security devices or hand out dye packs. In at least one case, one of the alleged accomplices asked a teller to call police because he didn't want to face Mitchell, who was waiting for him outside the bank. To observe such specific similarities within an isolated geographic area is a major investigative clue, said the FBI. While in some cases he waited in the getaway car, Mitchell allegedly pulled off three of heists himself. The FBI's Safe Streets Task Force is credited with the apprehension of Mitchell. During his arraignment, Mitchell indicated that he was unemployed, had only $24 and needed a court-appointed attorney. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the three robberies heís accused of doing.
Old School Fraud and Risky Robberies
Old School Check/ID Fraud - Recent data breaches at Target, Neiman-Marcus, and more recently Michaels retail chain of craft stores, have flooded the news. While these types of breaches are becoming alarmingly more common, some thieves are still going "old school" with a mix of new technology to ramp up the volume, particularly when it comes to identity theft. Following a year-and-a-half investigation, authorities in Tempe, AZ recently arrested 105 people with connections to five different check mills. Some of these 105 were passing the checks, buying electronics and fencing them, and purchasing Walmart gift cards in amounts ranging from $200-$500. Other members of the ID theft ring allegedly paid $40 to a check cashing employee for pictures of checks or would steal checks from cars or mailboxes and pass them on to those "higher up" who would actually print counterfeit checks. In all, about $240,000 was stolen. Consumers should be reminded to take basic precautions to protect their private information. This is especially important during tax season when year-end cleaning of personal files is often done. Encourage the use of shredders for sensitive papers and reiterate the importance of account monitoring to promptly detect fraud.
Luger Bandit - Like the Elmer Fudd Bandit named in our featured robbery story, the FBI often gives bank robbers unique and humorous nicknames based on their disguise or actions. But there is nothing funny about the man dubbed the "Luger" bandit when you know that a Luger is a handgun. The Luger bandit is linked to five bank robberies and one attempted robbery at a Wells Fargo bank branch in San Dimas, CA, where he left empty handed. The heists go back as far as June 2013. Wearing a hoodie, mask, sunglasses and gloves to shield his identity, the dangerous thief displays a German Luger-style handgun, orders employees and customers to lie on the floor and demands cash. Two of the victim banks are offering a reward of $15,000 for information leading to his arrest, which will hopefully be before his actions become any more violent.
Deadly desperation - In Anaheim, CA two men robbing the Bank of the West handed the teller a note indicating they were armed and demanding money. As they were exiting the bank, they grabbed cash from a customer at the teller window who just finished a transaction. A witness who saw the suspects leave provided the police with a description of the Honda Civic the robbers fled in, including a license plate number. The car was spotted shortly afterwards by the police. During the high speed pursuit, the driver lost control of the vehicle and hit a sign, then a light pole. The driver was pronounced dead and the passenger was last reported in critical condition. This case demonstrates the desperate mindset of many bank robbers and the risks they present to anyone they put in harm's way - including themselves.
Volatile and Unpredictable -
A volatile and dangerous situation unfolded on Monday, January 27th when an unidentified bank robber entered the Fifth Third Bank on US 27 in Clermont, FL. The masked bandit immediately displayed a handgun. When he demanded money, he fired a pistol short into the floor. It is unknown if the shot was intentional or an accidental discharge. This case highlights some important concerns for banks. Consider how nervous a bank robber is and the risk of injuries to anyone in the bank when the robber can't control their weapon. A shot that is intentional demonstrates a higher level of demand and robbers' lack of concern for anyone in the bank but themselves. A bullet can easily ricochet in a bank lobby and hit a customer or staff member even if not intended. While we are pleased to report there were no injuries in this case, whether intentional or not, this volatile robbery was taken to the next level which makes it even more dangerous than most.
Hot Topics From the Threads
In the publicly accessible threads, one banker linked to an article on security breaches and the fact that the picture of a teller with her cash drawer wide open is prominent in the article. The banker asks if you'd want your tellers shown that way? Do you think this is a security/privacy issue? Would it matter to your bank? Share your comments.
There is also a thread that links to a CNN article on a company doing background checks, and not doing them well. If any banks are using this vendor, perhaps a new vendor is in order and verifications may be needed for background checks already done through this vendor. There is more in the Public Security area. When commenting on these discussions, keep in mind this is an unprotected public forum and comments should be limited to generic content.
We also have a "private" security forum for discussion of more private, sensitive topics. That is where security officers were discussing how long DVR images should be retained, software vendors, SAR filings, combinations, and more.
To comment in Bankers' Threads you must be a registered user. You can register here. If using your bank email account, you will be given access to the private forums. The Private area is a group of forums under the heading "Private - Financial Institution Personnel Only." The Private forums do not include access to Bankers Hotline or Compliance Action, premium content areas that require paid subscriptions to those respective publications.
If you are already registered for the Threads, but don't yet have access to the private forums, using your bank email address send a request for access to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please verify that you do not yet have Private access. Once your registration request is approved, you can access the Private Security forum here.
CrimeDex puts a spotlight on counterfeits and other scams
One of the first steps in many counterfeit debit or credit card productions is the skimming of card data. This month's BOL CrimeDex alerts include a January 24 warning about skimmers found on ATMs and gas pumps in Colorado and Wyoming. Many of the counterfeit cards created with data skimmed at those locations were apparently used at Denver area ATMs and businesses. Is a careful check of your bank's ATMs a regular part of machine servicing? On the east coast, a New Jersey credit union posted an alert about counterfeit checks purportedly drawn on recycling companies located in California and Louisiana, deposited remotely to the account of a Newark, NJ resident.
A Pennsylvania DA's office posted an alert looking for accounts in the name of an individual accused of defrauding the federal government. She is alleged to have collected about 14 years ($90,000) of SSA benefits following her mother's death in 1996.
Counterfeit $100 bills are featured in an alert from a major retail chain. Apparently a ring of individuals operating in southern New England, New York and New Jersey have used the bogus bucks to buy merchandise, which is returned to a different store in the chain for genuine cash. Funny money was also the focus of an alert from a Florida sheriff's office, where a routine traffic stop turned up a cache of counterfeit cash, much of it with duplicate serial numbers.
As always, this month's assortment of CrimeDex alerts provides a rich source of information that can both help you solve cases affecting your financial institution and serve as object lessons you can use in security training for your staff. CrimeDex alerts help you and your employees stay alert.
Many of the CrimeDex alerts include photos of suspects or of phony checks, along with detailed descriptions of the scammers and their actions. You can use this information both to help prevent your staff from being duped and as real life examples for security training sessions.
Each month's BOL CrimeDex alerts can provide your financial institution with fresh examples of crimes that can be used to bring reality to security training presentations.
CrimeDex is now FREE to registered members of the Bankers' Threads
Private Security Forum! Get the details and subscribe now!
Robbery Deterrent Signs
Asking customers to remove hats, hoods and sunglasses could help reduce the number of bandits who target your bank. If you don't have a sign asking customers to remove their hats and sunglasses, get one now from the Banker Store
Remind would-be criminals coming in to your institution that they're likely to have their image captured on your surveillance cameras -- and that crimes against your institution are investigable by the FBI. These "print-it-yourself" signs from BOL provide another tool for deterring robbers.
Bank Robbery, International Style
Bank robberies, regardless of where perpetrated, always rely on intimidation and threats. Guru Barry Thompson's article reveals some astounding differences between bank robbery methods and responses between the U.S. and Japan. Read Bank Robbery Response
Reward Program Pays Off
Since 1991, Wells Fargo's robbery reward program has resulted in the capture of 228 robbery suspects with an average cost of $3,294 per captured robber. What a bargain!
Reward Program Pays Off
Employee Conduct During and After a Robbery
Quick lists that make great hand-outs for your robbery training.
-- During a Robbery
-- Don't Be a Hero
-- After the Robbery - Do
-- After the Robbery - Don't
-- Dealing with the Media
-- Closed Sign
Detailed, comprehensive procedures from Guru Dana Turner
-- for Management
-- for Staff Personnel
Dealing with the Aftermath
After a robbery or other critical incident, affected employees may experience a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms. These resources, from Lawrence Brock, can help the employees understand what they are experiencing, and can help employees not directly affected know what to say and how to listen.
-- Specific Ways to Cope with Stress
-- Tips for Listening
-- Signs of Grief/Loss
-- Avoiding Secondary Wounding
-- How to help
Robbery Prevention, Response & Aftermath
Robbery Prevention - NO HATS Signage
Bank Security Program Policy - approximately 15 page template covering topics ranging from Key and Combination Control to Cash Shipments and Requirements, Bank Robberies and more.
Security Program Manual
Complete, model security program from Dana Turner created in template form, with policies and procedures from both security and operations functions. Coverage includes all functions, department, facilities and record and asset control. Addresses routine operations techniques and the three types of internal and external crimes.
Effective Robbery Response & Opening Procedures (DVD)
From Bankers Video Library.
No one wants to think robbery can happen. But it can -- and does.
In the event of a robbery, getting the robber out the door, with no harm or injury to anyone in the office, should be everyone's aim and purpose.
This video, used along with the accompanying training workbook, (and documentation), can provide your institution with the robbery response training mandated by the Bank Protection Act.
Workplace Violence: It can happen to you - training video
From Bankers Video Library.
Surviving a violent event requires both individual and team efforts. Learning simple, effective survival techniques could save your life-and the lives of your co-workers and your customers. This tape, used along with the accompanying training workbook, (and documented), can provide your institution with the robbery response training required by the Bank Protection Act.
How Observant Are You?|
Test your observation skills (and your reflexes!) with these two original games from BankersOnline.com.
- Face Memory Challenge - Look at a face. Try to memorize each feature. Click a button. The face is gone and you must rebuild it, piece by piece. Test your skills in our Face Memory Challenge!
- Picture Memory - Get your clicking finger ready and snap into maximum concentration mode as you prepare to play Picture Memory. Warning! It's addictive!