Banks Turning to Anti-terrorism Technology to Address Armed Robberies

Houston has a lot to be proud of, and frequently tops the list in national polls for best places to live and do business in. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, however, it also tops

Three U.S. Marines involved in the raid. Special operation to rescue the hostages.

another list:  armed bank robberies.

A recent report released by the FBI shows that more than 40 percent of bank robberies in Houston were violent takeover style – where customers and employees are held at gunpoint and taken hostage – compared to the national average of six percent.   And according to other sources, a location that has been robbed once is 80% more likely to be robbed again unless proactive security measures are taken.

With more than 5,000 robberies of financial institutions across the United States being reported to the FBI annually, banks and credit unions are turning to a variety of sources to protect themselves and their customers, including anti-terrorism technology.

Isotec Security, Inc. is one of a number of companies that has had its technology approved by Homeland Security’s Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002, also known as the SAFETY Act. It manufactures safety entrances with weapons control lanes, which deny armed robbers access to financial institutions, while still allowing normal entrance and exit for customers.

More than just a regular bullet-proof access point, this DHS Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology can be integrated with other components of the bank’s security system including wireless control systems, intercom and video surveillance systems, and legacy systems used for reporting. Its metal detectors have specific algorithms that can distinguish between metal items that would normally be worn by customers, such as jewelry and belt buckles, and weapons.

According to Isotec President David Barnes, the key selling point of this type of technology is objectivity. Decisions made by security guards are subject to human error, where a threat could be missed or not addressed until the situation evolves and lives are at risk. FBI crime statistics show that about as many women rob banks as men, something a security guard may not know or be on the lookout for.

“The technology inside our entrances are programmed for specific criteria set by the client,” said Barnes. “Once the threat is identified, it’s automatically detained,” said Barnes.

In addition to providing more automatic threat protection, this technology is surprisingly affordable. In the midst of several bank robbery sprees across the country, bank officials told the media that they couldn’t afford to hire armed guards at all of their locations. According to Barnes, Isotec’s high-end access point systems can easily last 10-15 years and yet the turnkey cost, including product and installation, can be less than hiring a guard service for two years.

“Most of our customers choose to invest in this as a capital expenditure,” Barnes said, “but some choose a lease option, which enables them to pay for it over time. In those cases, when compared to hiring a guard service, it’s an immediate ROI.”