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Missouri Banks Attempt Unmasking Robbers

October 25, 2002  | 

In an effort to reduce crime in the Springfield, Mo. area, banks and law enforcement departments are trying to unmask robbers before they come in.

Twenty-six banks and credit unions with 141 locations in the Ozarks have already begun posting polite signs asking visitors to remove hats, sunglasses, and anything that might hide their faces as they enter.

With 14 robberies so far this year in the Springfield area--about double the annual average--other banks' managers are considering joining the sign posting initiative.

FBI Special Agent Dave Burlew says this policy, modeled on a Massachusetts program, could deter some potential robbers and could give authorities a full-face view of criminals in security camera images.

"I think it's a simple request," says James Holstein, president and chief executive officer of Old Missouri National Bank. "Customers will complain. But serious complaints? No. When they realize we are doing it for their safety as much as our safety, I think they will cooperate."

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