Secure banks to keep public safe

The center of Athens yesterday morning reminded one of Chicago during the time of Prohibition. Bank robbers and police exchanged fire in a crowded Kolonaki street in broad daylight. The shootout around the streets of Solonos, Ippocratous and Panepistimiou left three people wounded. It is clear that would-be bank robbers have been so encouraged by lax security measures that they have not only stepped up their activities but also shifted their action away from secondary and isolated banks to targets closer to central Athens. The wrongdoers obviously feel they have no problem operating in the city center, which clearly increases the risk of harm, as demonstrated in yesterday’s bloody raid. There is little doubt that the presence of security guards, closed-circuit TV cameras and time-delay safe locks – all measures introduced to reduce the robbers’ chances of netting a few thousand euros – are no longer adequate counterincentives. But banks could be virtually invincible if they invested in sophisticated systems that actually trap would-be robbers at the branch exits, ensuring that they are arrested and that other aspiring thieves are discouraged from attempting possible raids. But the banks – who are subject to no pressure by the state – merely count on the fact that any cash stolen from them is insured and remain indifferent to the consequences of such raids on their branches. The whole concept of bank safety regulations must change. The ease with which robberies can be committed these days – as if the culprits were merely taking a stroll around the block – risks spawning a new generation of even more ruthless criminals and, as a result, causing even more people to be injured (or worse). The state, banks and high-profit businesses are responsible for installing adequate security measures. They can no longer be lax and disregard problems, thereby turning bank raids into a very real public security threat that harms those innocent people who only happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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