Unravelling the loopholes in bank security – Adam Harris

Unravelling the loopholes in bank security

Adam Harris

Jul 09, 2017  Features / Columnists, – Adam Harris

The talking point in the past week was the attempted robbery on Republic Bank. One of the attackers was killed, but the interest rests with those arrested. It is turning out that some of them were employees of the bank.

A few months back, when people were robbed as soon as they left the bank, it caused some to speculate that persons inside the bank were collaborating with the robbers. There was the view that the security cameras inside the bank would have provided evidence of this, but no one can be certain that these cameras were brought into play.   

Now we have this case that suggests that many bank employees were complicit in the attempted robbery. Of course a bank teller was an active participant, but it is now turning out that many people inside the bank were criminals or at least had criminal intent.

News has emerged that apart from the three who attacked the bank there was somebody inside who had knowledge. That person texted a terse message. “Hold. She is not here.” According to reports, that person is in custody.

At one time the bank had a policy that stipulated no cell phone use inside the bank. That rule applied to customers; it said nothing about bank staffers. One is now left to ponder whether there are persons inside who would share private information about the persons making large withdrawals. For one, that person would have had knowledge of the customer’s address, thus allowing the bandits to strike as soon as the person arrives home.

These things will do the bank no good. It is unfortunate that the victims do not have the evidence to file serious claims against the bank. It is not unusual for the bank to run checks on its employees periodically. It would be interesting to see their bank accounts and have them explain any unusual growth in the accounts.

There is another side to this story. People are talking about the now dead Elton Wray. He shattered the perception that violent criminals are people from the other end of society. These are the people who did not do too well in school and could not make themselves productive members of society.

Indeed he was a young man and most of the current crop of criminals are young men. They have a role model who is flashy and who always seems to have wads of cash. These role models have women flocking to them. Other young men want the women too. I have known young women who would tell these young men that they can’t approach any woman with empty hands.

These young men want their women to look flashy so that other men can admire them. It matters not that they may be empty-headed. The main thing is that they are flashy.

Was Wray one of those who had a flashy woman to upkeep or was he preparing himself to own a flashy woman? For starters, he was educated, having pursued a scholarship in agronomy. He was employed and he owned a car, a status symbol for most people.

As people would say, he came from a good home, but it is now filtering out that he was a bit of a maverick. His parents are embarrassed, but they had nothing to do with this. Suffice it to say that they have to look into the faces of people who would be thinking, “Their son was a criminal.”

The bank teller who was involved is another kettle of fish. He too was employed, had to be intelligent or at least, schooled better than the average Guyanese. He knew the lay of the bank and therefore took pains to disguise his identity. I am told that he wore an overall over his work pants and he had a dreadlock wig.

Sitting here and looking back over the events, I am forced to conclude that this was not the first robbery that these young men were attempting. No one picks a bank to enter into the world of crime. People are still asking questions. Why would a reasonably well set young man pick up a gun and try to rob a bank?

There were many young people who saw his salary and wished they could have been earning that sum. But they are content with what they get. They do not contemplate criminal activity. I was one of those who learnt that I should work honestly for what I want and I have no regrets today.

Many, many years ago there were the Prince brothers who robbed the Guyana Rice Board. They helped themselves to the payroll, some $90,000 which was a lot of money at the time, perhaps about $10 million today. They too were intelligent.

I met one of them at the Mazaruni Prisons as he was coming to the end of his sentence and I talked to him about the robbery. He told me a lot of things went wrong. He served twelve years and when last I heard, he was out of the country. He is an old man now, but he did say he regretted losing so many years of his active life.

Intelligent people do not engage in violent crime. They tend to be the white collar criminals, some of whom are being investigated at this time. They were too bright for their own good.

KAIETEUR NEWS – July 8, 2017

“Hold! She is not here” – inside staffer texted bank bandits

“Hold! She is not here”. This is a text message investigators discovered on a phone belonging to one of the three bandits who were involved in the attempted robbery on the Republic Bank Limited, Water Street, Georgetown, on Tuesday morning.

The message was sent to one of the robbers by a bank employee who was in the building before the gunmen had entered, a police source confirmed.

That employee, whose name has not been disclosed, has joined his colleague Jamal Haynes, in police custody.

Kaieteur News was informed that when the bank employee went into work and did not see the female staffer who was supposed to be emptying the night deposits, he texted one of the three bandits—his colleague, the now dead Elton Wray or Keron Saunders.

However, by this time the men were already making their way to the bank and did not bother to check their phones.

While this could not be confirmed, it is suspected that the staffer who was inside the bank had messaged Haynes’ phone.

Additionally, a policeman and a rural constable were arrested yesterday after ranks from the Guyana Police Force (GPF)’s Major Crimes Department (MCU) received information that they were a part of the plot.

Kaieteur News was informed that while Saunders has been cooperating with the police, Haynes, who was shot to both legs, has remained tight-lipped.

According to information received, Haynes and his gang were planning on getting their hands on the night deposits since it was a three-day weekend and companies would have deposited millions or even billions into the chute.

The robbery on the bank had been planned three months before. The men even hijacked a car the night before.

As had been customary, a female staff was supposed to be at the bank at 07:10 hrs on Tuesday and should have been emptying the chute and taking the cash to the vault.

According to the bandits’ plan, when they entered the bank, they would have held the staffers hostage and seized the woman who would have been emptying the chute—there they would have grabbed a few bags of cash and escaped.

Everything went according to the plan until the three bandits got into the bank and Haynes did not see his colleague who had access to the chute.

“He panicked because the woman was not around. She had not arrived at work, so they began checking the canister for cash. They then went to the vault and were knocking on it to get it open,” a staffer at the financial institution said.

This newspaper was told that the woman, who the men wanted, was at the back entrance of the bank at 07:30 hrs, when she learnt of the commotion and went away.

Meanwhile, Haynes’ senior colleague and junior staffers were in the vaults when they saw what was ocurring on camera. They immediately called the bank’s security manager who then called the police.

By this time, a Professional Guard Services (PGS) outfit that was in the vicinity, reached the scene in less than a minute.

Wray, an agronomist, was shot dead, while his accomplices were arrested during a 10-minute shoot-out between them, the guard service and the police.

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