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Guys I gotta go...were being robbed
STOCKTON, Calif. (12/21/09)--On Dec. 15, Allied CU CEO Frank Michael participated in a conference call with the Credit Union National Association’s Small Credit Union Committee. During the call, Michael suddenly needed to sign off. “Guys, I gotta go ... we’re being robbed,” he told the group. A gunman was waving his revolver at Michael behind the glass window of his office. Two individuals, each wearing hooded sweatshirts and masks, had entered the Stockton, Calif.-based credit union in a takeover-style robbery. One jumped the counter and emptied the drawers on the teller line, while another held a member and put a gun to her head. One of the robbers made his way to Michael’s office, which is located by the teller line. When Michael saw the gunman, he immediately exited the conference call. Members of the Small CU Committee later commented on how calm Michael sounded when he signed off. After hanging up, Michael called the police. The gunman watched him make the call, but didn’t do anything to stop him, he said. “They were on their way out,” Michael told News Now. “They can’t stay too long.” After the men left, Allied CU called for victim assistance to help the traumatized member who had a gun to her head. Nobody was injured. Police caught the robbers a few miles outside of the credit union after tracking them with a global positioning system (GPS) device that was in a stack of $20 dollar bills. “My staff did a great job,” Michael said. “They responded the way they were supposed to. They gave them the money and then got them out the door.” Takeover robberies are not new to Allied CU. The credit union had two takeover robberies in November. They have since deployed GPS devices and installed glass over the teller counters. “That made a difference,” Michael said. “We’re always prepared.” The glass helps police lift fingerprints, and the GPS device allows police to track the robbers after they leave the credit union. The device is activated after the cash is lifted off the till. When Michael called the police, they were already tracking the men, he said. Credit unions should think about what they can do to assist police with apprehension, Michael said. For instance, formica countertops don’t retain fingerprints, but glass does. Credit unions also can look into different tracking devices and work with police to see what solution works best for them. Dye packs can help recover stolen money, while GPS devices can help catch thieves, he said. It’s also important to prepare staff for robberies by talking through what could happen and teaching them how to respond. After Tuesday’s robbery, the staff is doing great. “The fact that the robbers were caught restored their confidence,” Michael said.
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