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
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If…Considerations
1Enlisting support of banksEstablishes joint ownership of the problem... changes in management are neededRecommendations lack the force of law
2Adopting a multijurisdictional approachProvides sufficient data to focus resources where most neededthere are too few robberies within a single jurisdiction to suggest changesEncourages cooperation between banks, police, and the FBI
3Focusing on high risk branchesIdentifies high risk locations... branches are cooperative in addressing risksCombines prevention and detection; cost-effective; targets high risk locations; may be expensive
4Focusing on specific types of bank robberyEmploys specific preventive strategiesspecific types of robbery can be identifiedMost likely to produce tangible results
Reducing Rewards
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
5Limiting access to cash Reduces rewardsbank policies are routinely followedInconvenient 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 useemployees include packs in stolen moneyGas and dye packs are already widely used
Increasing Perceptions of Risk
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
7Slowing the pace of the robberyIncreases perceptions of riskrobbers are unarmedMay reduce successful robberies, or reduce amount of loss, but may increase violence; inexpensive; can be tailored to the situation
8Banning disguisesDeters opportunistic offendersrobbers are solitary offenders; robberies are not plannedDifficult to enforce in cold weather
9Employing greetersDeters opportunistic offendersrobbers are solitary note passersMay be useful as a short-term solution at specific times and locations
10Hiring guardsIncreases risk of apprehensionguards are highly visibleExpensive; may increase violence; alters bank environment
11Warning likely offendersIncreases perception of riskrobbers are localLow cost strategy
Increase Likelihood of Apprehension
12Using tracking devicesIncreases risk of apprehensionoffenders are aware of devices but cannot easily defeat themCan be used in high risk locations; conserves police resources; employees must include devices
13Using bait moneyIncreases risk of apprehensiontellers include bait in moneyBait money is already widely used
14Offering rewardsIncreases risk of apprehensionoffenders are localPublicity may have a deterrent effect on other would-be robbers
15Upgrading electronic surveillance Increases risk of apprehension and perception of riskcameras are well positioned, visible, reliably activated, produce good quality images, and not easily disabledVideo 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 alarmsIncreases risk of apprehensionalarms are activated quicklyAlarms 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
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
17Installing bandit barriersStops robbers from using weaponsrobbers are armedProtects 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 accessBlocks robberscustomers become accustomed to the practiceVaried controls can be tailored to particular locales; can be installed in high risk locations; may affect bank environment and customers
19Installing access control vestibulesBlocks armed robbersrobbers are armedCan be installed in high risk locations; expensive to install
20Hardening targetsIncreases difficultytarget vulnerabilities can be identified and alteredMay be expensive or difficult to install; may inconvenience customers; often unnoticeable; can be tailored to individual properties
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
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