Seven Things to Keep You Awake at Night

Article excerpt

Some bankers count sheep to help them sleep. But the more they think about YACS, the more likely they'll toss and turn.

These YACS aren't yaks, however. YACS is an acronym standing for "Yugoslavs, Albanians, Croatians, and Serbs." Why bankers should be worried about the innocuous-sounding abbreviation is just one of many new worries aired at ABA's recent National Security, Audit, and Risk Management Conference.

1. Burglary by sledgehammer. Criminal elements from the four ethnic groups just mentioned have been coming to this country in recent years. America is ripe for the picking with their type of crime: burglaries committed with sheer brute force.

Experts speaking at the conference noted that YACS started with targets like grocery and jewelry stores and some have graduated to automated teller machines. They bring heavy tools with them and break through roofs. Safes are defeated by shearing off hinges, rather than spending time picking combination locks. ATMs are busted open with iron and human muscle.

In New York City, local police and the FBI have a task force devoted just to YACS, according to speaker Francis Keating, vice-president and security director, The Bank of New York. But catching them does little to stop their organizations.

"These people are not talking," says Keating. "Time in jail in the U.S. for these people is like going to Paradise Island, compared to their old countries."

2. Raising the high-jump bar. Bulletproof bandit barriers are seen in many banks. But some institutions, to avoid looking too unfriendly, have opted for only partial barriers. This apparently isn't good enough anymore, because some robbers have found they can vault these barriers.

"In California, we have had 'The Flying Wallendas'," says Don S. Tokunaga, director of security, First Interstate Bancorp, Los Angeles.

3. The frauds are always with us. "You can't hire enough people to prevent the fraud problem," warns Robert Rasor, deputy assistant director of investigations, U.S. Secret Service. "As we stop one type of fraud, new types will occur." Elaborating, Rasor says criminals who prey on banks have no preference as to method or point of access--they'll defraud a bank at any weak spot. …