Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Appendix: Summary of Responses to Bank Robbery

The table below summarizes the responses to bank robbery, the mechanisms by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors that should be considered before a particular response is implemented. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. Remember, in most cases an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses because law enforcement alone is seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Requirements for an Effective Strategy
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
1Enlisting support of banks Establishes joint ownership of the problem ... changes in management are needed Recommendations lack the force of law
2Adopting a multijurisdictional approach Provides sufficient data to focus resources where most needed … there are too few robberies within a single jurisdiction to suggest changes Encourages cooperation between banks, police, and the FBI
3Focusing on high risk branches Identifies high risk locations ... branches are cooperative in addressing risks Combines prevention and detection; cost-effective; targets high risk locations; may be expensive
4Focusing on specific types of bank robbery Employs specific preventive strategies … specific types of robbery can be identified Most likely to produce tangible results
Reducing Rewards
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
5Limiting access to cash Reduces rewards … bank policies are routinely followed Inconvenient for employees; compliance must be monitored; unlikely to discourage robbers with low expectations
6Using tear gas or dye packs Robbers often drop cash upon activation; dyed money is difficult to use … employees include packs in stolen money Gas and dye packs are already widely used
Increasing Perceptions of Risk
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
7Slowing the pace of the robbery Increases perceptions of risk … robbers are unarmed May reduce successful robberies, or reduce amount of loss, but may increase violence; inexpensive; can be tailored to the situation
8Banning disguises Deters opportunistic offenders … robbers are solitary offenders; robberies are not planned Difficult to enforce in cold weather
9Employing greeters Deters opportunistic offenders … robbers are solitary note passers May be useful as a short-term solution at specific times and locations
10Hiring guards Increases risk of apprehension … guards are highly visible Expensive; may increase violence; alters bank environment
11Warning likely offenders Increases perception of risk … robbers are local Low cost strategy
Increase Likelihood of Apprehension
12Using tracking devices Increases risk of apprehension … offenders are aware of devices but cannot easily defeat them Can be used in high risk locations; conserves police resources; employees must include devices
13Using bait money Increases risk of apprehension … tellers include bait in money Bait money is already widely used
14Offering rewards Increases risk of apprehension … offenders are local Publicity may have a deterrent effect on other would-be robbers
15Upgrading electronic surveillance Increases risk of apprehension and perception of risk … cameras are well positioned, visible, reliably activated, produce good quality images, and not easily disabled Video surveillance is already widely used, but the quality could be improved; provides good investigative evidence but can be defeated with disguises; exterior surveillance can provide information about escape routes
16Rapidly activating alarms Increases risk of apprehension … alarms are activated quickly Alarms are widely used but must be activated quickly; quick response by police may trap robber inside bank, thus increasing the risk of violence
Increasing Difficulty of Offending
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
17Installing bandit barriers Stops robbers from using weapons …robbers are armed Protects employees but may increase risk to customers; can be installed in high risk locations; although unpleasant for customers, pop-up screens do not alter the environment
18Limiting bank access Blocks robbers … customers become accustomed to the practice Varied controls can be tailored to particular locales; can be installed in high risk locations; may affect bank environment and customers
19Installing access control vestibules Blocks armed robbers … robbers are armed Can be installed in high risk locations; expensive to install
20Hardening targets Increases difficulty … target vulnerabilities can be identified and altered May be expensive or difficult to install; may inconvenience customers; often unnoticeable; can be tailored to individual properties
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
21Increasing criminal sanctions     Offenders already face stiff penalties; stiffer penalties for gun use may have decreased armed robberies; general deterrent effect is weak
22Limiting media coverage of bank robberies     No evidence that media coverage contributes to copycat robberies
23Training employees to spot suspicious behavior     Difficult for employees to detect; few robbers case branches
24Increasing police effort to deter and apprehend bank robbers     Little evidence that extra police presence is effective or efficient; does not affect future robbery risks; expensive