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When a bank gets robbed, who pays for it?

by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on September 10, 2010 at 10:38 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 10 at 10:49 PM

As of Friday, there have been 35 bank robberies so far this year in the St. Louis area.

Last year, thieves stole more than $45 Million from U.S. banks, and News 4 has learned that you - the customer - are likely paying for it.

Friday is statistically the biggest day for bank robberies.  There are a lot of secrets banks use to protect their cash, so even if it is stolen it can be tracked.  Safety comes first though, and banks say training their employees for a hold-up can help catch the bad guys by identifying suspects early.

A bank robbery caught on camera -- guns firing, masked men yelling.  This time, it's just a drill.

"It was very real and nerve-wracking," Eagle Bank and Trust Assistant Vice President Branch Manager Donna Lawson says.

It's all an effort to prepare and warn bank employees about how dangerous a robbery attempt can turn.

"It seems like it's happening more and more, because times are tough," Lawson says.  "People are desperate."

Most robbers want in and out as quickly as possible.
 
"The longer a robber is inside a bank, the bigger the chance that he's going to get caught," Lawson says.

But it can be lucrative.  The average take is $4,000.  Typically, only about $800 is ever recovered.

"The ultimate goal is safety," Lawson says.  "Whatever they ask, you want to give it to them."

But that can leave customers on the hook for missing money.  A bank's money is insured by the FDIC, and banks also carry insurance against robberies.  Just like your insurance policy, the bank pays the premium, but Lawson says:  "There are some banks that I've heard recently -- say in 2010 -- that do pass on the FDIC assessment to the customer."

In an effort to step up security, every person who walks through the front door is immediately caught on camera -- letting potential robbers know they're being watched.

"We also went to digital so we get a lot better pictures than we used to, and those videos run 24 hours a day, every day of the week," Lawson says.

Lawson says the bank's mock hold-ups have also trained employees to pay closer attention to details about each customer.  No hats, sunglasses or anything else obscuring your face is allowed inside a bank.

The FBI investigates all bank robberies.  To get a good look at the robbery suspects still on the run, log on to bandittrackerstlouis.com.
 

Maggie is a reporter News 4.  To contact her, email mcrane@kmov.com

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