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Have you seen these suspects?
Updated December 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.



A Fall from Grace and a Weak Defense
A Hero Gone Rogue - A decorated former police officer who served as a student resource officer at a local high school and was officer of the year in 2002 went from a respected hero to a rogue bandit. In a brazen heist, Alvin Brook, wearing a baseball cap and bandana, entered an M&I Bank branch in June 2010, ordered the bank employees into the vault area and pointed his department-issued Glock handgun at their heads. He took $54,000 and threatened to kill the employees if they pushed any buttons or tried to follow him. After the robbery, the victims told investigators that the suspect seemed to have military or police training, had a gun very similar to the investigators, and carried some type of walkie-talkie or scanner in his pocket, over which the victims heard "police chatter." Surveillance video showed an antenna extending from the suspect's pocket.

Read more about the path this former hero gone rogue took that resulted in a nine-year prison sentence followed by ten years of supervised release, the actions that led to his arrest, and the ramifications his actions had on the bank.

Donations for a Defense - Most criminals declare their innocence right up until the time of their arrest or conviction. After Michael Winston II, 27, attempted to rob a Bank of America in Parkland, his accomplice (who happens to be his wife) not only declared his innocence, she launched an online plea for money to help with his defense while the police were searching for their suspect. Winston's planned heist went awry when an armored car driver noticed him wearing sunglasses, a fake beard, hat, and gloves and acting suspiciously outside the bank. Winston pointed a gun at the guard, who shot him. The bleeding suspect limped to his getaway car and was assisted into the vehicle by the woman driving. They took off, without any cash. Winston's wife started an online fundraising account, contending her husband was a victim of racial profiling, was at the bank "to open an account," and that the guard tried to murder him. In her desperate plea for donations, Mrs. Winston stated that her husband "was not a bank robber and she was not a getaway driver." She further stated that Winston is an Army vet and that "he likely forgot" he had a weapon on him. Winston was discharged from the military for misconduct after serving just over a year. Mrs. Winston's efforts to raise more than $200,000 to help her husband fight the charges netted less than $100 in donations. Both Mr. and Mrs. Winston are charged with attempted first-degree robbery.



Old-school Tech and ATMs as Targets

Old-school tech still works - Many people consider dye packs old-school technology, but they can still be very effective. When the Webster Bank in Rye, NY was robbed, the thief was given a dye pack that activated as soon as he exited through the back door. Perhaps it was the dye, the heat or the unwanted attention, the bandit abandoned the bag of money at an adjacent parking lot and continued his getaway. A man matching the suspect's description was later seen in a parking lot changing his clothes and scrubbing his arms.

Trapped and dyed - Earlier in the month a Citizens Bank branch in Philadelphia was robbed. Also in this case, a dye pack was passed on to the thief. But in this case, the bank had a "man trap" and when the bandit reportedly "tried to leave with the bag of money he got locked between two sets of doors and the dye pack exploded." It may have been more than just the dye pack that stopped him, but it certainly clearly pointed out the perpetrator.

Identifying marks - Dye packs played an important part also in the capture of the man featured in our first Facebook Blog entry for September (see below) who is accused of murder and bank robbery. As the case against Ty Hoffman builds, it's been noted that he was trying to exchange dye-stained money from the robbery for unstained cash through casino slot machines prior to his arrest on September 11th. At the time of his arrest, he still had dye-stained money in his possession and burns and red marks on his back consistent with a dye pack exploding near him. He also had a claim ticket to his backpack stored at the casino where he was trying to launder the stolen money.

Securing an ATM - Several incidents this month highlight that it's not only customers at risk of thefts at ATMs, but the device itself is a target. Houston PD arrested Ray McHenry for criminal mischief for using a blowtorch to break into an ATM at 2 a.m. Because he had a prior record his bond was set at $160,000. And in Jacksonville, FL a man stole a $135,000 forklift from a construction site and attempted to remove an ATM at Synovus Bank. An employee flagged down police when the ATM was discovered severely damaged, and the abandoned forklift was found in the bank's drive-up. The would-be thief was unsuccessful in getting the ATM open even after repeated crashes with the forklift. And finally, in and around Los Angeles two men have been arrested for ATM robberies at Chase ATMs. The two used power tools to cut into the ATMs and expose the safe areas. They then attached a rope or chain to the door attached to a truck to yank it out. The pair was responsible for ATM thefts totaling nearly $500,000.

Hot Topics From the Threads

As security issues heat up we've seen a noticeable absence of discussions of security issues in the Public Security area. More of the discussions, for risk management and confidentiality reasons, has moved to the private area where we have a forum for bankers only on security topics, and another that allows law enforcement and regulators access.

We also have a "private" security forum for discussion of more private, sensitive topics. That is where security officers were discussing reliance on motion sensors instead of clearing the bank each morning, signing for keys and maybe for combinations, the cost of defending the bank vs. being sued for checks a hooker cashed, larceny, 314a lists, backup SOs, 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 andyz@bankersonline.com. Please verify that you do not yet have Private access. Once your registration request is approved, you can access the Private Security forum here.




September Scams Target Seniors
Officials in Brevard County, Florida, issued an early September alert attempting to identify a woman using fraudulent ID documents to withdraw $5,000 from a victim's account in Melbourne, Florida. Counterfeit official checks were reported by the Far East National Bank, Los Angeles, California; Citizens Bank & Trust, Kansas City, Missouri; Southland Credit Union (reported by Citibank); Wescon Credit Union, Pasadena, California; Digital Federal Credit Union, Marlborough, Massachusetts; and others.

Ankeny, Iowa police posted an alert about two suspects who have been distracting elderly female shoppers, stealing their wallets and using their credit cards to buy electronics and prepaid gift cards. The two suspects are reportedly part of a small ring from New York. And our "lowlife of the month" award goes to the suspect in an alert from Montgomery County, Maryland, police about bogus calls to an elderly individual claiming that her family member needed cash bail money to be sent to an "attorney" in Florida.

BOL CrimeDex subscribers can send and receive alerts that can be instrumental in solving or preventing scams, robberies, fraud and other crimes. Information from CrimeDex alerts can be great object lessons to share with customers in financial institution newsletters or with employees in security training.

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.

Banker Tools:
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

Robbery Procedures
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-Related Products
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!







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