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Providing Police Information w/o Subpoena

We are in a small town. Recently a policeman came in asking if we had had any large amounts of coins coming in. He said there had been a burglary in the area. My question is how much information can we give, without a subpoena or such device? Can we say that there had been but give no name? If the person bringing it in was not a customer would this make a difference. The customer that was robbed is a customer so I would like to see the person found, but with all the new Regs I am not sure what I can and can't do.

Answer by Andy Zavoina:

You could provide some general info such as you have or have not seen increased coin activity. But I would hesitate to provide anything customer specific. You would have liability if you disclose too much. IF you suspected someone, a SAR may be in order and that would allow law enforcement to get information they need and to search further, with the correct documents in place.

If you were to openly provide this information without legal cause, the police may not be able to use it. If that evidence was thrown out, where would the case be? So don't try to help too much, you could do more harm than good.


Answer by Dana Turner:

You may give any law enforcement agency with such an inquiry general information -- as long as you don't disclose any information that may lead to the identification of the subject of the investigation. Sounds weird?

If the information that you disclose helps the investigating officer corroborate date, time, location and other factors already known, he/she can obtain a search warrant to serve on the institution for actual records. Then you must comply with the request. Remember that LOCAL law enforcement agencies generally are not allowed independent access to FINCen's information -- the locals generally must receive that information through a federal source. I also discourage you from attaching a copy of any SAR to a LOCAL law enforcement report for the same reason.


Answer by Richard Insley:

At least you don't have to worry about the federal RFPA.


Answer by Barry Thompson:

When I was a young security officer someone stole coin from the Salvation Army kettle and law enforcement asked us to help. We actually started to question people about coin when our legal counsel became involved and was upset we were even beginning to investigate the situation. The attorney's point was well taken. Anyone could turn in a large amount of coins for several legitimate reasons. Over the years the one thing I never did was try to trace coin as it was untraceable. I think that Dana’s answer is the best to follow and your decision as to what to do is entirely your own!

First published on 8/18/03

First published on 08/18/2003

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