Why don't US banks have this robber protection?

On a couple of programs I’ve watched films of bank robbers attempting to hold up British banks and those tellers trigger bullet proof, defensive shields that snap up and seal off the tellers from the crooks! The crooks leave, without money. In one film, the crook tried to jump the barrier just as the teller triggered it, was snatched up to the ceiling, knocked cold but that portion of the barrier retracted when it met resistance, showing a safety mechanism built in. He fell off and it slid shut.

Around here, bank robberies are common things. Not one bank has anything like those shields. Why? Even many late night little stores have the solitary attendants behind shatter proof and bullet proof glass with service ports that can be closed, plus behind the counter cameras.

Banks only have cameras, often those which record low quality images, like they’re too cheap to buy better ones or replace the recording tape now and then.

Why don’t we have those barriers here, especially since 99% of the bank robbers will be packing a gun?

Just a WAG, but it might come down to cost.

That is, yer average bank manager figures that the money he’d lost to robbery in any given period of time would be quite a bit less than the cost of installing and maintaining one of those things.

Besides, this is America. If some crook got knocked out cold by one of those things, like the guy you mentioned in the OP (I saw that show too! :smiley: ), he’d probably sue the bank and win a huge judgment.

So it’s just not worth it.

Wild guess: I, personally, wouldn’t want to patronize a bank that sealed its employees behind impenetrable shields while leaving the rest of us bank customers outside with a (now angry) armed robber to fend for ourselves. Give the robber what he wants while tripping the alarm and get him on his way, I say.

I’ve often wondered if there wouldn’t be a way to trap an exiting robber between the sets of lobby doors. Assume bullet-proof glass.

Or at least a bar at shin level to trip him on the way out.

(OK, Maybe I read too many action comix, where these toys are plot gimmicks.)

That’s scary, Soul. I thought about that exact thing when I read the subject line of the thread.

Something that we do have in the states is permanent bullet-proof glass in some banks. It seems to me that this is a more effective means of preventing robbery, since it has a deterrent effect as well.

Robbers in general are in a trememndous hurry. Their main goal is to “do the job” as quickly as possible. Not only do they not have time to pick up condoms, the bank dislikes robbers and has little incentive to provide protection.

Device exists. One branch of the bank I use, which at times is conveniently on my way, has this setup. Under “normal” operation, going in or out thru the main door involves open door 1, then door 2 on the other side of the “airlock” locks, and won’t unlock until door 1 has come closed. In an emergency could be remote-triggered to seal in the assailants (the customers would evacuate thru the fire door, I suppose)

Imagine you, as an innocent bystander, getting sealed inside this bulletproof “vault” with a desperate armed bank robber. (Besides, if such a system were widely used, it would probably increase the likelihood of kidnapping.)

Statistically speaking, bank robberies are rare in the U.S. and the cost of the Brit system cannot be justified outside of major metropolitan areas.

I’ve seen the British system. Impressive, but imagine a robber throwing himself atop this shield–when not deployed, hoping he can keep it from springing up–and then getting crushed on the roof above, when it is activated. He’d probably win a huge settlement, given our criminal justice system.

      • I have a book somewhere that said (a number of years ago) that banks and related institutions estimated they lost 30 to 80 times as much in various types of account and wire fraud than they did in old-fashioned holdups. That figure was given before the explosion of the internet internet and online credit-card sales. ~ And for all the publicity old-fashioned holdups generate, a bank will rarely lose more than a few thousand dollars in one.
  • Most places (in the US), it’s just not that big of a problem to justify spending tens of thousands of dollars to “help” protect against it. - MC

I’ve often wondered why banks, airplanes & other places susceptible to robbery and/or hijacking don’t have anesthesia gas quietly pumped in when the alarm sounds. By the time the gunman has his money & realizes the doors are locked tight, gas has been pumping into the room & everybody goes to sleep (of course there has to be a long enough “wooziness period” to allow people to voluntarily lie down before they fall down). If I were a bank patron I wouldn’t mind being gassed in the middle of a hold up as long as I knew that, when I woke up, the right people would be handcuffed.

Seems to me this would be especially useful on a hijacked airplane. It’s already air tight, the pilot’s cabin is sealed off. By the time a gunman has secured the passenger section & makes his way to the locked door of the cockpit, everybody starts feeling dizzy from ether (or whatever you can use to put people to sleep quickly).

You’d eventually find a customer in the bank who was allergic to the anesthesia, had a bad reaction, etc., and died- instant lawsuit. Also, actually knocking someone out safely generally requires someone monitoring vital signs to insure that they don’t get too much (or too little)- individual responses vary. Sure, you could find a dose that worked for most people, but that 1 in a 100 fatality with a “one size fits all” would put a damper on the system :slight_smile:

Also, I’d bet that a crazed robber might tend to get violent and start shooting if he noticed people starting to get woozy and laying down … even worse, he probably would be getting woozy himself and not thinking to clearly, with a gun in his hand.


…which would be time enough for an athletic assailant on speed to pull the pin on the grenade… if he is even bothered at all by a dose of “knockout gas” that has a 99.9% certainty to NOT kill or permanently hurt infants, the elderly and the cardiorespiratorily infirm. Also, this presumes that somewhere in the facility there is a security detail with gas masks, that can be prepped w/o tipping off the bad guy and properly secure the scene while the unconsciousness lasts.
Sorry, this alternative, in civilian circumstances, is still many years away.

Still wouldn’t work. The thug, upon entering the bank, would grab the nearest customer and threaten his or her life if s/he even suspect any gas is discharged. By the way, lots of movie theatres now use bullet-resistant glass. What next?

I used to work in a bank, and I have been involved in more than one robbery.
The bank I worked for trained us to hand over the cash if a weapon was shown. The bank would rather lose a few grand then have an employee or a customer killed. There was also a limit on how much cash we were to have in our drawers at any given time, so the loss would be minimal. If there was no weapon, and they just passed a note (Give me all the money or I will shoot), we were to duck down under our desk, the theory being that if the robber couldn’t see you, he couldn’t intimidate you. In both situations, the bank wants the robber out the door as fast as possible. The are silent alarms that trigger surveillance cameras and police calls. We also used ‘bait’ money, that would assure that when the guy was caught, we could prove the cash he had on him belonged to the bank.
Another thing that people don’t realize is that banks lose more through fraud than through stick-em-up robberies (sorry, no cite for that, but that’s what I learned at work). People will raise bills, forge checks and identification, kite money and so on. The bank can potentially lose tens of thousands of dollars on one phony check, with no alarms pulled or police called, but a bandit will only walk away with less than 2 grand, probably get caught, and never come back. I think the banks focus on training employees to spot and stop potential fraud more than they worry about trapping some crackhead between 2 doors.

rastahomie pretty much nailed it with the first post. We don’t have systems like the OP mentions because it’s not cost effective. We have over 200 branches and robberies are rare. We also have insurance for such things.

In the rare instances we do get robbed, we’re not losing a cent folks (well, other than the insurance premiums).

Our rates are based on the security features of each branch. Many of our drive-thrus do in fact have bullet proof glass. It all comes down to what features are cost effective when compared to the insurance premiums.

Guess you guys don’t patronize inner city banks much, but once I went to a bank in a bad part of town and those bullet proof defensive shields are permanently in place. You can’t touch the teller and you either give them your deposit slip under the shield or through a small one-way locking door.

But I dunno why they don’t have those permanent shields everywhere, probably cost and esthetics. Who wants to go to a bank where the tellers are sealed off? But the funny thing is even though the tellers were sealed off, the other employees were out in the open. A desperate enough robber would just point a gun at the head of an employee or customer for that matter and get them to open the door into the sealed place.

When I was a teller, we were behind bullet deflective (they made it a point to stress that in training) glass. In fact, having lived in New York City most of my life, I had never seen a bank that didn’t have it’s tellers behind glass until I moved to MA. The glass isn’t necessarily to prevent the tellers from being shot, but to prevent robbers easy access to the tellers area. If they can’t jump over the counter and put a gun to your head, the less money they can steal. Of course, if they decided to grab the manager and hold him at gunpoint, that would become a more serious crime than a simple bank robbery, and therefore a bigger sentence if caught. It may not discourage an organized group of people looking to score big money, but it would discourage the junkies and crackheads looking for a few hundred to blow on drugs. At least, that’s how it was explained to me in training.

The robber notices hes being drugged, and he shoots someone in anger or fright.

Why would you want to stop a bank robber? All these suggestions - gas, bulletproof shields, lobby traps, they all have the off chance of panicking someone with a gun. There’s no real benefit. If a man with a gun enters your place of business, you do not want him staying one second longer than necessary. You want him leaving ASAP with a minimum of trouble, and the best way to do that is to give him exactly what he wants.

Remember; banks have insurance. The relatively small amount of money they will lose in a run-of-the-mill robbery is insignificant compared to the risks to life and limb. And since the police will catch the robber most of the time anyway, and usually recover some or all the money, the odds are good you’ll lose little to nothing and the perpetrator will do hard time.

What about a “small” explosive charge put in the robber’s bag with the money. They drive off bank property and KA-BOOM!! :slight_smile:

Not really, the processes to catch robbers that are already in place work just fine.