Don’t be a hero…Lessons from the BBVA campus bank robbery

By on April 11, 2012
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In my mind’s eye, bank robberies involve all the theatrics of a Hollywood blockbuster. A balaclava clad duo dripping with the poise of Bonnie and Clyde enters the building, draws their weapons, and demand the untold riches of the bank’s coffers. After a few tense moments, the teller fills their duffle bag, and the pair runs out the door for an obligatory car chase through the streets of Birmingham.

Last Monday’s bank robbery, however, was a far cry from the antics of America’s infamous duo. The events that took place at the BBVA Compass Branch located on the first floor of UAB’s Administration Building lacked all hints of a crime thriller.

Rather, the entire affair left me slightly underwhelmed. According to the UAB Emergency Management Team, around 2 pm on Monday, a 5’4” to 5’6” 250 pound black female entered the bank, handed the teller a note and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. The announcement by the Emergency Management Team indicated that no weapon was used in the course of the robbery.

Immediate reactions to the robbery became trending topics on Facebook within moments.

All posts followed along the lines of, “How could this ever happen?” A senior at UAB, encapsulates the inanity of the event with his Facebook status, “‎5’4’’, 250lbs, no weapon… how exactly did you rob a bank?!?! And get away?!?!” For the entire week, small talk revolving around these questions spawned a myriad of possibilities. Maybe the teller saw courage in the robber’s eyes and handed her the sum as reward for bravery? Or maybe the woman presented a particularly intimidating demeanor, using all of her height and heft to leverage the situation in her favor.

The incident demonstrates that robbing a bank is incredibly easy. The entire process takes only a few minutes and even a lackluster antagonist can make off with a pile of loot. What took place, however, was not the product of the robber’s forceful demeanor or a timid teller.

Rather, relative ease of robbery is a consequence of the robbery procedures most banks employ. A quick Google search of “bank robbery safety” results in a myriad of guidelines for just such occasion.

The common advice encourages tellers to remain calm, comply with the robber’s demands, and alert the authorities when they can do so safely. The procedures emphasized the importance of employee and customer safety rather than a heroic call to action.

After perusing a few guidelines I’ve compiled “The Kaleidoscope’s 5 Step Guide to Surviving a Bank Robbery.”

Don’t be a Hero.

Repeat, Don’t be a Hero.

Your safety and the safety of those around you are much more important than making the Today Show.

Do exactly as the robber tells you (See steps one and two).

Be observant and polite.

Following the robbery, the police may ask you to describe the events that took place. Being polite always helps smooth ruffles in tense situations…like bank robberies.

Call the police when it is safe to do so.

Majaliwa Mzombwe
Staff Writer
maja@uab.edu

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