Movies often glorify armed robbery and the criminals behind it. However, being robbed at gun- or knifepoint is a terrifying crime for its victims. Find out what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.
As a crime reporter and columnist, I’ve interviewed a good number of people who were the unfortunate victims of armed robbery.
I heard their stories of being terrified by armed robbers who shout and wave guns and manhandle them. Even those who were not injured say the experience of being robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint is an awful one that they will always remember.
I’ve also accompanied police officers as they’ve arrested stick-up men. Few are brave or tough when up against police officers. Once in handcuffs, most of these criminals are sullen and appear to be dullards.
Which is why I am not a fan of heist films that glorify armed robbers.
I watched Michael Mann’s film Public Enemies on HBO the other night and I thought it was a well-made film. The film was also historically accurate for the most part. I thought the film offered two good performances by Johnny Depp as the notorious bank robber John Dillinger and Christen Bale as FBI special agent Melvin Purvis.
Unfortunately, I feel Mann glorified Dillinger in the film. Mann attempted to humanize the violent criminal by exaggerating a romance Dillinger had with Billie Frechette. In reality, once Frechette was arrested Dillinger quickly moved in with another woman named Polly Hamilton. So much for romance. Hamilton was one of the two women who accompanied Dillinger to his last picture show.
In the film, Dillinger tells reporters a sad story of how he received a long prison sentence after robbing a store when he was only 21. But the film neglects to mention that Dillinger bludgeoned the grocer and tried to shoot him, but the grocer knocked the gun away before Dillinger ran off.
Dillinger and his gang would go on to kill ten men and wound seven others, including police officers and prison guards. They terrified bank customers, tellers and hostages.
Today the criminal descendants of Dillinger and the other depression-era public enemies are terrorizing business people, customers and people on the street.
Kareeim Barrow and Carl Farrington, a duo of armed robbers who authorities allege went on a terrifying three-month armed robbery crime wave in New York, were charged in federal court on June 30th with armed robbery and weapons offenses.
“Earlier this year, Barrow and Farrington’s alleged armed robbery spree spread fear among the Bronx, Westchester and Putnum counties,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “As a result of a tireless pursuit by a task force comprised of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we believe the people of the Bronx and the Hudson valley can rest a little easier.”
Business owners can also rest easier if they follow the below steps to help prevent armed robbery:
- Establish opening and closing procedures and train your employees on those procedures.
- If possible, have two or more employees present during opening and closing time.
- Establish a cash protection system. Only keep a minimum amount of cash on hand.
- Employees should not handle large amounts of cash while visible to the public.
- If possible, make bank deposits during the day with two people.
- Vary your route to the bank. Go to the bank at different times and don’t stop along the way.
- Ensure that your business’ interior and exterior are well lit and visible from the street.
- Install physical barriers between employees and customers, such as protective glass.
- Install surveillance camera equipment. Hang signs that announce you have camera surveillance.
- Install a silent alarm system with a hidden panic button that notifies the security company if trouble occurs.
- Train employees to watch for and report suspicious people and activity.
- Install signs that announce you have little cash on hand. Also, install signs that announce that you have a security system.
“Movie depictions of bank robbery often romanticize the crime, from ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ to ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ to ‘Public Enemies.’ said George Venizelos, the Acting Assistant FBI-Director-in-Charge of the New York field office. “But in real life, armed bank robbery terrifies employees and customers, and poses the real risk of serious injury or death,”
The armed robbery of any person or business, not just banks, can be a terrifying event. Business owners should join or establish a business watch and work with fellow business people and the local police to prevent armed robbery and other crimes.