FBI stats say fewer banks robbed with dress code for customers

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Local banks and credit unions seem to be following the statewide trend of requiring a dress code, not for its employees but for customers.

Last year, more than 200 Missouri financial institutions adopted a "no hats, no hoods, no sunglasses" policy. Crime statistics released by the FBI indicate 42 fewer robberies in the first year that the policy has been in effect.

The Bank of Missouri in Cape Girardeau has such a sign on its door, said operations officer Pat Kaempfer. Since the notice was posted, Kaempfer said, no one has questioned it, nor has there been any resistance.

"We pride ourselves on being a local, home-owned bank," she said. "We get to know our customers anyway."

Such a notice is also posted on the door of the Cape Regional Credit Union and has been there since fall, said a spokesman there.

Commerce Bank doesn't have such a sign; it has only a notice stating that firearms are prohibited, according to a spokesman there.

Rosie Holub, president of the Missouri Credit Union Association, said in a statement, "By removing hats, hoods, caps and sunglasses, consumers make it easier for staff and law enforcement to identify any suspected robbers who often use these items as a disguise. We are able to obtain clearer security photos, and this policy draws attention to people who do not comply."

It is believed, Holub said, that a potential robber might leave without committing a robbery if he believes he will be more easily identified.

At least 162 banks and 70 credit unions statewide participate in the program. Customers are to be served even if they refuse to remove their headgear, but cashiers, security officers and employees are more watchful of those people.

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