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What works better than dye-packs?

There have been four low dollar, low key bank robberies at asmany institutions in our community since mid December. Each time the bad guycomes in, passes a note asking for between $1,000 and $2,000 in $20s countedout before him (to avoid the dye pack) and claims he is listening to ascanner so don't trip any silent alarm. He is in any institution less than50 seconds. Even though each institution has pictures of him and knows hisM.O., because of his quickness, he is never caught. Many of the robberieswe hear of state that the bad guy demands "no dye pack" to the point wherewe feel it is an ineffective security device. In my 15 years of bankingexperience, I know of only one instance where the banks I have workedhave successfully planted the dye pack on the bad guy. A new employee tothe bank was telling me of a paper-thin tracking device that is embeddedinto a bill and is activated similar to the dye pack; when the bill ispassed before an electric field. Are you aware of such a device and do you know of any contacts where I might start evaluating the cost of this type of device?

Answer by Barbara Hurst

I don't know your location, so this is a little hard to evaluate. The tracking device you are talking about is only effective in certain locales. Los Angeles is one of them. It works the same way the anti-auto-theft device works. Only instead of being triggered by theft, it is tripped when going through the electronic field in the door of your institution, and immediately shows up on a screen in the police station. All the police have to do is track it to arrest the robbers. We like it because it takes the arrest scene far from the financial institution. But unless you live in an area where the police have agreed to monitor such a device, it isn't much help to you. As to the effectiveness of the dye pack - the new ones are also paper thin, and virtually undetectable. We hear of many instances of their successful use - but the need for them must be evaluated by each financial institution, including the determination of exposure and location.


Answer by Dana Turner

Most robbers know of dye packs and what will happen to them shortly after they exit the door. While dye packs are not totally ineffective, their effectiveness has been reduced significantly since they were first introduced. The type of tracking device mentioned by your employee has proven effective. There are many different types of "homing" devices available from many vendors -- and most of them require that the local law enforcement agency acquire the equipment necessary to monitor them. Contact your local agency and see if it has such equipment. The agency's Crime Prevention Unit should also be able to guide you to several qualified vendors.

First published on 3/19/01

First published on 03/19/2001

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