How Are Face Masks Affecting Bank Security Measures?

20 October 2020
Category Security
20 October 2020, Comments Comments Off on How Are Face Masks Affecting Bank Security Measures?

close up view on medical surgical illness protective face maskUntil we have safe, effective, widely available vaccines and treatments to win the battle against the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic, the only weapons we have to slow or stop the spread of the virus are social distancing, hand hygiene, and wearing a face mask. Those vaccines and treatments are supposedly closer to becoming a reality, but once they’ve been developed and approved, how long is it going to take to ramp up production and then distribute them to everyone who should get them? This article is focused on the ramifications of wearing face masks. Given the fact that bank robbers tend to wear masks when committing their crimes, we have to ask the question: Will face masks impact bank security measures?

Do COVID-19 Face Masks Make Everyone Potential Bank Robbers?

Anyone who decides they’re going to rob a bank is probably going to wear some kind of mask to hide their identity. Sure, there are some bank robbers who don’t wear masks, either out of arrogance or sheer stupidity, but those who are serious about getting away with it will wear a mask of some kind. With no end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are routinely wearing a face mask to try to protect themselves and others from the risk of exposure to the virus or inadvertently passing it on to others. But does wearing face mask for health and safety reasons make you look more like bank robber, and how are bank security measures handling so many people wearing masks?

The U.S. Treasury Comptroller of the Currency Sounds the Alarm

A big part of the reason this question has come up is because of a somewhat alarming letter sent by the United States Department of the Treasury Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks to the mayors all over the U.S. Here’s an excerpt from that letter:

“Potentially permanent requirements that individuals wear face masks in many or even all public spaces create the very real risk of increases in bank robberies. Historically, banks had policies prohibiting customers from wearing masks and certain head coverings in branches for this reason. Many banks relaxed these prohibitions temporarily during the height of the COVID-19 crisis out of concern for the health and welfare of their customers. While that may have been a prudent decision when the extent of the health risk was still unknown, recent reports of face-covering-related robberies at bank branches and other establishments make clear that broadly applicable face mask requirements are not safe or sustainable on a permanent basis.”

It would be easy to dismiss this concern as overblown, but there are plenty of local law enforcement departments across the country that will tell you they’ve definitely seen an increase in armed robberies—and that’s no joke. 

Armed Robberies of Banks and Face Masks: Then and Now

Bank robbers in the U.S. first started making names from themselves back in the wild west days of the 1800s. Names like Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, and Henry Starr are some of the more famous bank robbers of the Old West. After the turn of the century, the gangster bank robbers took over with names like John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, John “Red” Hamilton, and Frank “Jelly” Nash. Some of these famous bank robbers didn’t wear masks at all because they simply didn’t care, but most of them did wear a mask when committing their crimes. In the Old West, the masks weren’t fancy and more often than not were bandanas. 

The thing about face masks is that they create suspicion. Back before there were security cameras in every bank, robbers would often quickly put their mask once they were inside the bank but before anyone got a good look at them, and when they were making their getaway it was essential to quickly remove the mask upon exiting the bank so as to not arouse the suspicion of people out on the streets. This is part of why banks are especially struggling with people wearing face masks. They typically wouldn’t allow anyone to walk into a bank wearing a mask, but now it’s expected!

Here we are in 2020 with everyone (well, nearly everyone) wearing masks, and there have been some interesting headlines such as this one from the New York Post: “De Blasio and Carranza in coronavirus masks resemble Old West bank robbers,” referring New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. That one may make you chuckle, but then you also start wondering if all this mask wearing to protect people’s health might also be emboldening bank robbers. So far, the overall picture does not seem to involve an increase in armed robberies of banks or other establishments. But, the ones that are occurring do now tend to involve the robbers wearing a surgical masks since they seem pandemic-related rather than crime-related. 

How Banks Are Adapting Security Measure During COVID-19

Like businesses across the U.S., banks have also had to adapt to pandemic conditions, including how they handle people wearing face masks. Many banks have chosen to only use their online banking, ATM, and drive-thru operations and only allow people inside a branch location by appointment. Granted, any would-be bank robber could make an appointment at such a bank using a fake name, but so far there haven’t been few if any reports of this happening.

Other banks, however, have reopened their regular retail operations at many branches. Safety and security measures at some of these banks are being handled differently than they would be in pre-pandemic conditions. In some cases, there may be a bank employee serving as greeter who will ask customers to take their masks down or remove them long enough to face a security camera for a moment so your identity can be verified later if needed. This serves as a pretty strong deterrent to many aspiring bank robbers who would rather conceal their identity behind a mask. This is a smart move to minimize the risk of being robbed. This could also be combined with showing some actual identification, which would serve as even more of deterrent. 

Banks that don’t adapt their security measures in these ways are clearly more vulnerable to being robbed. There have been bank robberies by criminals wearing COVID-19 masks in California, New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas, just to name a few. 

Bulletproof Barriers for Banks by Creative Industries

With criminals emboldened by the new normal of everyone wearing face masks when going into businesses of all kinds, including banks, the threat of gun violence during armed robberies is still a very real threat. Now might be the perfect time for any bank to up their safety and security measures by making sure they have adequate bullet resistant barriers in place to protect their employees from gunfire. The good news is that Creative Industries has a range of bulletproof products for the bank setting:

  • Bullet Resistant Teller Counter: Model BRTC-SWTH is furnished with a swivel-thru combination pass-thru and deal tray. It has a natural voice transmission acrylic panel with acrylic panels above risers set in aluminum frames. This unit includes counter top, risers, and counter front with bullet resistant fiberglass panels on rear side. Electrical outlets are mounted on rear side of risers.
  • Bullet Resistant Windows: There are more than dozen different configurations of bulletproof windows for a variety applications in which employees interact with customers. 
  • Deal Trays: Our 13 different deal tray products protect employees when interactions with customers require passing small items back and forth.
  • Drawers: These 9 different styles of drawer products are commonly used at bank drive-ups. The employee inside extends and retracts the drawer to exchange items in a transaction. 
  • Pass Thrus: There are 11 different products to serve the same function as drawers but are designed to handle items of various sizes. 
  • Talk Thrus: There are 7 different kinds of talk thrus that can be added to various transparent bulletproof resistant barriers to allow dialog when serving customers.

Our bullet resistant solutions in the form of transparent barriers and other products can all be customized to fit the unique needs and requirements of any bank. Creative Industries has been providing safety and security solutions to all kinds of businesses and organizations since the 1980s. We know what works and how to make it work in your location to protect your employees and your customers. And if you need us to design a totally new and unique bulletproof product, we’re happy to work with you on that as well. 

Your Source for Bullet Resistant Barrier Information and More

We’ve been publishing some very informative and useful articles recently on the blog page of our website, so be sure to check out the following recent topics:

The brothers who run operations at Creative Industries are Mark and Mike Clark. They’ve been involved in this family-owned business for nearly 40 years, working with a diverse range of clients and customers that have included such well-known brands as Wells Fargo, Disney, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Microsoft, ABC, and Chevron. Whether it’s a hospital, school, government building, stadium or arena, bank, convenience store, or other establishment, we think they all deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing your employees and customers are protected from the threat of armed robberies. Give us a call at 800-776-2068 today to discover how our products can help your business achieve better safety and security!

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