Friendly Service Cuts Bank Robberies

FBI finds personal attention unnerves would-be felons
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2008 12:50 PM CST
Chipper customer service has resulted in a decrease in bank robberies in Washington state.   (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – Bank employees are thwarting robbers in Washington state, not with steel bars or alarms—but with broad smiles and enthusiastic handshakes, reports the Seattle Times. The number of bank robberies in the state reached a 20-year low thanks to FBI training program "Safecatch," which teaches bank personnel to catch potential robbers off guard with exceptionally good customer service.

Greeting customers when they enter a bank unnerves potential robbers, who try to remain anonymous, explains an FBI agent. Teaching tellers how to respond after robberies also increases arrests, and prevents repeaters. Almost 100 fewer banks were robbed in Washington last year than in 2006, dropping the state from 4th to 11th in the nation in total robberies. Bank of America saw its robberies more than halved after implementing the program last year.