Guidelines for members during robbery
Most credit unions have an established protocol for staff to follow
following a robbery, but what about for members. Harry Trombitas, Special
Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has created the following list
of recommendations and tips for members present during a robbery.
Remain calm and do not make any sudden movements.
Do what the robber says. Cooperative customers and employees are rarely
harmed during a bank robbery.
observant. If possible, get a good look at the robber, noting the race, sex,
approximate age, height, build, and clothing. Specifically focus on things
that canít be readily removed, such as ear rings, hair length and style,
scars, marks, and tattoos.
Never chase a robber after he/she leaves. Instead, go to a window and get a
description of the vehicle and direction of travel.
Ask for a witness statement and immediately write down what you recall about
the robbery and description of the robber. Make sure to include your name,
address, and telephone number so that you can be contacted later by
Donít talk about what you observed, including descriptions, with others
because investigators want each witnessesí personal observations.
Wait for the police/FBI to arrive. They need to conduct interviews with
everyone involved, no matter how much or little you saw.
Be cooperative with law enforcement throughout the investigation. They need
your help to hold these criminals accountable for their actions.
from the FBI on dealing with the media after a robbery
FBI Special Agent Harry Trombitas says it is essential for every credit
union to have a response plan for dealing with staff, customers,
law enforcement, and media in the wake of a robbery.
Current tools of the trade that can help credit unions recover stolen money
or thwart a robbery include: bait money, dye-packs, surveillance cameras,
smooth surface counters (for better fingerprints), frequent staff training,
and a bank robbery kit with response plans and materials.
Trombitas encourages credit unions to remember when dealing with the
are people just like you
is the media's job to report the facts
media is a biased, competitive, and irresponsible industry
media will invariably report your credit union's shortcomings after a
media will create controversy when there is none
When responding to the media, the simplest answer you can provide them is to
refer all questions to the law enforcement officials because of an on-going
General Tips the FBI suggests:
any response to the media/public with investigators
only one spokesperson for your credit union -- internally and externally
maintain a positive posture and demeanor when speaking with the media
your credit union's cooperation with law enforcement to the media
your credit union's security and procedural secrets
that the your staff, members, and the public are listening
After a robbery, manage the crisis by:
immediate support and assistance on the scene of the crime
staff and members for media contact. Advise them to not answer the media's
"crisis" money available to those who will have long-term issues after the
the credit union is a safe environment
employees through the pre-trial and trail procees.
robbery prevention and protection information
Assign a Media Spokesperson
Financial institution robberies often become lead items on the evening
news. Media reports can be helpful in producing information leading to the
arrest of robbers. However, they may raise doubts among your members about
the safety of the credit union and their money.
for dealing with media inquiries:
Assign one person,
usually a senior-level credit union official, to deal with the media.
No employees except the spokesperson should speak to the media.
If there are no
objections from law enforcement officials, the spokesperson can release
the following: their name, title, & business telephone number; the time
the robbery occurred; a brief statement assuring members that all deposits
are insured against robbery losses.
Share the bare facts of
the robbery, such as that a lone male approached a teller and demanded
cash and then fled on foot. Emphasize that no one was hurt (if thatís the
Refer reporters to the
police for additional information. Donít reveal the amount stolen. This
information is confidential at this stage of the inquiry (it may come out
in court proceedings) and should be shared only with law enforcement
authorities, your bonding company, and your regulatory agency.
Emphasize that the credit
unionís deposits are insured, and that the credit union will continue to
serve its members as usual.
Take the opportunity to
praise employees for their professional conduct during the robbery.
Donít reveal the
identities of witnesses or employees, as they could be targeted by the
Donít discuss the credit
unionís security systems, such as alarms, bait money, dye packs, and the
like. Allow the media to photograph the credit unionís exterior and what
interior is visible form the outside, but donít allow any photographs that
might be helpful to other robbers.
difference between credit union marketing in routine vs. crisis situations:
Marketingís routine function builds the value of the business.
Marketingís crisis communications function preserves the value of the
Review how-to sections:
Public speaking tips
when speaking to the media
When crises arise