MADISON, Wis. (11/21/08)--With a troubled economy and the arrival of the holiday season, what can credit unions do to thwart robberies in an environment in which crime sometimes goes up? The biggest key is awareness, an industry crime expert said.
The fourth quarter is probably the most active time for credit union robberies in some years, but not always, Vince Wagner, risk manager for CUNA Mutual Group, told News Now
. So far in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the year as whole, credit union robberies are not significantly different than other times of the year--and may even be a little down, Wagner said. Credit union robberies reported to CUNA Mutual the past few years were:
* 2005--338 robberies; * 2006--434; * 2007--349; and * 2008--274 (through Nov. 19).
“Robbery is something a credit union has to be aware of all year long,” Wagner said. “Awareness is the most important factor. Credit unions need to train employees on what to do before, during and after a robbery. Credit unions should have annual training, at a minimum, and then frequent updates and reminders on how to deal with robberies.” Deterrence is also important. For instance, having a sign on the credit union door that reads “No hats, no sunglasses, no hoods” can help deter robberies, Wagner said. Other deterrents include greeting people as they enter the credit union and having queue lines--which can result in more control of the situation if a robber has to stand in line for awhile, he added. Also, going over robbery policies and procedures with tellers and other personnel helps. “For instance telling employees to lock the door after the robber leaves, so he or she doesn’t come back into the credit union,” Wagner explained. “You need to regain control of the situation as soon as you can after a robbery.” Another factor is checking the placement of security cameras so that different angles for pictures of robbers can be viewed to better identify them, Wagner added. The FBI released its most recent crime statistics on Oct. 17, indicating that for the first quarter of 2008, there was a minor increase in financial institution robberies with 1,604 total robberies nationwide--34 more robberies than occurred during the last quarter of 2007. In the first quarter, there were 132 robberies of credit unions, nine burglaries, and zero larcenies, according to FBI statistics. Overall, most violations at financial institutions occurred on Friday, the FBI said. Regardless of the day of the week, violations between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. were the most common. The fewest incidents took place on Sunday.