Magazine article Security Management

Tellers Walk a Fine Line with Robberies

Magazine article Security Management

Tellers Walk a Fine Line with Robberies

Article excerpt

A teller receives a note from a robber asking for a bag of cash. Typically, tellers are trained to comply with the request and get the robber out of the bank. Some banks, however, are training tellers to use their discretion: if the note-passer doesn't seem to be carrying a weapon or to pose a threat, the teller can simply choose to walk away from the window.

The theory is that most note-passers are out for a quick hit and will panic and leave when the teller doesn't return. Since most bank robbers are note passers, the policy can result in fewer losses for the bank, and it can help the bank earn a reputation as a hard target.

One large east-coast bank has for years trained tellers to walk away from note-passers if they feel comfortable doing so. The director of security, who requested anonymity, explains that the policy has always been effective, especially in branches with bandit barriers, where tellers feel safer. He emphasizes that tellers aren't expected to walk away unless they feel comfortable. "It's clearly the tellers' shot to call," he says. They make this judgment by evaluating the robber's demeanor, clothing, gestures, and other factors.

In most cases, the robber flees immediately when the teller leaves. "Most robbers are just hopped up and don't want confrontation," says the security director. Never has a walk-away resulted in a hostage situation, injury, death, or lawsuit at this bank, he adds. And the reduction in losses has been significant.

Out of 56 attempted robberies that occurred in this bank's branches in one large city last year, 39 were not carried out when the teller walked away. …

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