Banks Use New Tech To Try And Prevent Robberies That Are On The Rise In Columbus

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UPDATED: Wednesday February 26, 2014 11:52 PM

The capital city is seeing it's highest number of bank robbers in 6 years, and some financial institutions are trying find new ways to prevent them.
 
CrimeTracker 10 looked at trends in bank robberies by analyzing hundreds of reports.

Since January, CrimeTracker 10 uncovered 14 banks that were held-up by robbers since the start of 2014. The last time Central Ohio saw this many bank robberies by this time of year was in 2008.

"The majority of your bank robberies are going to be a passive type of bank robbery," says Officer Heather Galli with the Upper Arlington Police Department. "It's going to be a note pass, a verbal request, an implied weapon, but usually a non-violent approach."
 
In the last 10 years, bank robbers held up at least 550 banks and credit unions. Some financial institutions fell victim to robbers more than 10 times. CrimeTracker 10's investigation also uncovered new trends in 2014, such as the hours when bank robbers hit most often, like 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Law enforcement officials familiar with bank robberies say that's because those are the hours when banks don't see a lot of traffic.
 
"Most bank robbers, they don't want to call attention to themselves, they want to get in and out as quickly as possible, they want to avoid being captured or drawing attention to themselves," says Officer Galli.
 
Another trend related to location became quite clear after Crimetracker 10's investigation. Most of the banks targeted were located along major roads - like North High Street, Broad Street, and State Route 161. Police say the locations have easy in and easy out.
 
Many financial institutions are turning to new ways to better protect customers and employees from bank robbers.

Wright Patt Credit Union is based out of Fairborn, Ohio, but recently opened up a Columbus-area branch on Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington.
 
Managers describe the member branch as a "cashless environment" because of their unique devices called Personal Teller Machines, or PTM's. They look and operate much like an ATM, but customers interact with a credit union representative via remote video.
 
"There's no need for cash drawers, and when members conduct their transactions, the money goes into a secure vault into the machine that the employees in the location do not have access to," said Tammy Jones, Market Leader for Wright Patt Credit Union.
 
"So there's no way for us to gain access to the money," adds Jones.
 
Wright Patt Credit Union believes PTM's could deter a bank robber from even walking in the door. Customers who used the machine for the first time say they felt safer while also feeling like they received the same service as if the bank teller was face-to-face.
 
"I feel safe," says Rashard Cobb, a Wright Patt Credit Union Customers. "The cash isn't out there, they have everything secure back there so I really like that I felt safe doing that in here."
 
CrimeTracker 10 also spoke remotely with Kellianne, one of Wright Patt Credit Union's PTM service representatives based in Fairborn. She describes why a cashless environment makes her job easier.
 
"So that really reduces the risk of robbers or other individuals might have, and we're located remotely so that helps with the risk as well," she says.
 
Upper Arlington Police Officer Heather Galli says the Personal Teller Machine caught her eye at first glance and could help deter a bank robber from walking in the door.
 
"So you don't have large amounts of cash just waiting or available to be handed over in this type of environment," said Galli. "It does obviously reduce or cut down in the environment on that risk."
 
Wright Patt Credit Union is planning to open at least five more member branches in Central Ohio in the next few years which will all have Personal Teller Machines.
 

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