I wrote this post last week following some prompting from a ValueIreland.com reader, and based on some thoughts of my own. Given yesterdays events in Kilkenny, tiger kidnappings becomes topical again.
And just before I get into this post, regular readers are probably familiar that I’m quite keen on my conspiracy theories, but I’m not necessarily trying to build one in this article.
Having said that, I really really can’t grasp why we’re still seeing so called “Tiger Kidnappings” in this country.
Personally, I’m fully convinced that at least one recent tiger kidnapping (and fairly large) and robbery was an inside job, but you have to think that with the levels of technology and security available to banks these days, that a fool proof way of preventing these thefts could be developed.
Now, banks have put procedures in place in the last year or so that are supposed to help in these tiger kidnapping situations, but as this article highlights there’s not a whole lot can be done if the staff in question don’t actually follow the guidelines put in place.
Bank management ignored alert guidelines, which were drawn up by all of the financial institutions with the gardai and the Department of Justice, to protect the hostages taken in a tiger kidnap and help end the spate of similar robberies.
Reacting to this, Charlie Flanagan of Fine Gael completely pointlessly had this to say:
Fine Gael’s justice spokesman has said internal security staff at Bank of Ireland should consider their positions if they are unwilling to co-operate with agreed procedures between themselves and the Gardai.
For someone who expects to be part of a Government in the near future that will probably still have these robberies to address and deal with, shouldn’t this really have read:
Fine Gael’s justice spokesman has said that Bank of Ireland management should review the positions of their internal security staff at the bank if they are unwilling to co-operate with agreed procedures between themselves and the Gardai. Mr. Flanagan said that failure to fulfill contracted paid duties as part of their employment should result in the dismissal of such staff.
Simple as – you don’t do your job, you get fired.
Back in December, the Sunday Business Post published this interesting article on the phenomenon – How can Gardai tame the tiger kidnappings?
many instances of tiger kidnapping have occurred throughout the world – with Ireland, Britain and Belgium being the more likely locations for such a crime. There are at least 30 tiger kidnappings a year in Ireland and most are perpetrated against the immediate family of a member of staff while in their own homes.
Obviously there remains the question as to what can be done to prevent these robberies from occurring. I mentioned above that sure the levels of technology and security at the disposal of banks could ensure that they don’t happen. However, this article in the SBP points out:
The nature of the crime could be described as ‘asymmetric criminality’, because it employs simple psychological coercion to combat hi-tech security.
The only way to combat the crime is through avoidance of routine and developing what is termed ‘situational awareness’.
So it actually could come down to very simple procedures that could be most effective at preventing tiger kidnapping and robberies.
- Avoidance of routine – don’t always have the same person responsible for the money every day. Have more than one person responsible – 2 different people randomly responsible each day. In a bank branch of 25 employees, that would mean more potential combinations of employees with access on any one morning for any of these gangs to be able to cover.
- I presume bank staff are provided with some sort of home and/or car security in the event of being approached. Even personal alarms of some sort would be enough to alert the necessary authorities of a problem.
- There are already procedures in place for what should be done in the event of a tiger kidnapping and attempted robbery. It would probably be a good idea if these procedures were followed.
- How about a system that prevents access to a bank to any staff outside of working hours? Any access outside of hours must be arranged in conjunction with security personnel, bank management and the Gardai?
Obviously, the stress and fear that a bank employee is under in such situations is incomprehensible for me. This BBC story, Can ‘tiger kidnappings’ be prevented?, has a quote from John O’Connor, former head of the Flying Squad in the UK:
“One way (to prevent these occurrences) is to have a system whereby more than one person needs to be present for a door or a vault to open, but even then if someone’s family has been kidnapped, they will do everything they can to persuade their colleague to come in and help them.”
I referred to an “inside man” above – and obviously, the presence of such an inclined person within the staff of a bank may be hard, if not impossible, to prevent. However, having strict and always followed procedures within a bank would also mean that even if such a person was inclined, they’d know that in their particular branch, it would be pointless to even attempt such a robbery because procedures are followed so stricktly.
The infamous Securitas robbery in the UK in which £52 million was stolen depended on an “inside man” to get the key information necessary to allow the gang responsible to right man to target for the tiger kidnapping.
This “inside man” was familiar with the procedures within Securitas at the time:
“We were given a card with an 0800 telephone number on it, and were told that if we were kidnapped we should ring that number, which I thought was a bit strange.”
Strange? How about completely useless, pointless, inappropriate and unfeasible?
I really don’t know. Simple straightforward procedures, rigidly followed, combined with up to the minute technology and security techniques have to be the solution to preventing these robberies completely.
Then again, maybe I’m being too simplistic here. What do you think?