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Bait Money

Barbara Hurst, BOL Guru

Question: We have had a discussion going about bait money. We have always photocopied our bait money with the copies being kept by the branch manager where they can be quickly retrieved in case of a robbery. We've now had a request to change to using one or more log books to record the information. One of the reasons for this is information from the Secret Service about making photocopies of currency actual size. Some of our branches do not have copiers that will reduce or enlarge. Can you tell me which is the preferred method?

Answer: I would agree with the Secret Service that "size matters" but I'll also admit that I've been in this business going on 40 years and in the case of bank robbery, I've never heard the Secret Service give a bank trouble because of the size of the copy of stolen bills. But the fact remains, it is a law not to copy true size. Photocopies of the bills should either be reduced from real size, or enlarged.

We've talked several times about the amount of cash, and the number of bills, maintained as bait money. First, how useful is it? Interviews and case tracking by the FBI revealed that bait money traditionally figures in convictions in less than 3% of bank robbery cases. More useful today are the digital photos of the robbers in action, and the positive identification provided by our employees, along with DNA. For bait money to be useful, one bill will do the trick, but we still find many financial institutions tying up large amounts of cash as bait money.

Which brings you to the reason for the logs. It's simply easier when you have too much bait money, to record sequentially numbered bills in a log (e.g. C24951165H - C24951265H) than it is to make copies of 100 bills. If there are fewer bills in the bait money, it's not nearly as big a job to make copies. I'd suggest using fewer bills. The possibility for error in the numbers exist when doing the log. There can be no error in the copy.

In my seminars I talk about the teller in New Orleans who was not permitted to photocopy her bait money because of the inability to reduce or enlarge. She would simply put on fresh lipstick, kiss a $20 bill and put it on the bottom of her pile of $20s. If she got to the bottom of the pile, she never gave out the lip-print bill, because she knew that was her bait money! (Editor's note - FYI - lip-prints are as unique as fingerprints.) It solved the problem of not having to remember which was the bait bill

"Standard of the industry" is still copies of the bait money. It's easier and more dependable information than a log book. Whichever you decide to do, make sure the strap around the pack with the bait money in it is not marked, "Bait Money - Do Not Use!"

Copyright © 2004 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 14, No. 4, 7/05

First published on 07/01/2004

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