NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Many Banks too Eager to Please Robbers

September 10, 2003

Faced with a plague of bank robberies in New York City by (often) unarmed and unsophisticated criminals, officials are ready to turn up the heat -- on banks. Many law enforcement officials think that the banks are partly to blame.

In an effort to be "customer friendly," banks have done away with many of the security arrangements officials think help deter bank robberies. For instance, over the past decade banks have done away with teller windows with metal bars and armed guards, while increasing the number of hours they are open -- something which many crooks are taking advantage of.

  • While New York City crime continued to fall in the late 1990s, bank robberies fell to 136 in 2000 from 235 in 1997.
  • But in 2002, bank robberies shot up to 250.
  • In the first eight months of 2003, there were 312 robberies.

Some of the improvements officials would like banks to make include installing bandit barriers (bullet-resistant windows intended to keep robbers away from tellers), greeters for the lobby and digital surveillance cameras that are visible to customers and would-be robbers.

Police also would like banking personnel to be a little more aggressive when dealing with bank robbers. One tactic they advocate is for the teller, protected behind a barrier, to merely walk away from would-be robbers.

When banks do give money to robbers, police want tellers to hand them decoy packages (rigged with exploding dye packs) made to look like they contain large amounts of money while actually containing little. Some of the banks that have adopted many of the suggestions have experienced few robberies while others claim it made little difference.

Source: Mitchell Pacelle, "'Please Select YES to Rob Us'" Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB106296903718521000-search,00.html


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