Robbers preying on bank customersAmidst concerns over the recent spate of robberies committed on persons who have been targeted after conducting financial transactions at several commercial banks, the umbrella body representing these local financial institutions, the Guyana Association of Bankers (GAB), is now considering implementing some new measures to protect customers.GAB President Richard SammyThe GAB told Guyana Times that it has engaged the relevant authorities, and has committed to an ongoing joint effort with a view to ensuring the safety of staff, customers and other stakeholders. This comes months after a decision was taken by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to set up a sting operation.“Varying recommendations aimed at enhancing the existing security procedures and safeguarding banking operations are being considered for adoption by the individual banks as applicable”, the Association said in response to a series of questions posed to it by this newspaper.GAB said some of these measures are of a sensitive nature, and, as such, it would not be prudent to divulge these to the public. However, the organization has said that, should any of the proposed measures have implications for respective customers, the necessary advisories would be shared at the appropriate time.Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had, in early March, suggested that a sting operation could help to curb the issue before it becomes uncontrollable, and would help to address the situation from a collective standpoint. The minister did not reject popular opinion suggesting suspicion of involvement of bank employees and relatives of persons who have been robbed in the past.He had described the situation as worrying, and said he wanted the problem to be addressed soon.Ramjattan had also revealed that certain banks have started conducting their own internal investigations into the phenomenon, to determine the truth; and he explained that most commercial banks have reported that their tellers would not be able to retain their phones while on duty.A source close to the GAB indicated to this newspaper that employees at several of these banks now have to abide to a strict policy, whereby they are prohibited from using their mobile telephones.While the GAB neither confirmed nor denied this information when questioned, a senior employee at another banking institution claimed that while this was enforced before, the rules are much sterner and inflexible.Crime Chief Paul Williams had also appealed to banks to carry out some amount of analysis within their daily operations.“There are so many things the banks can do from an analysis that (would) really help us to see if there is any inside dealing or inside information,” Williams has stated.He said that while Policemen in plain clothes have been stationed outside of some commercial banks, and traffic ranks are ensuring that unauthorized drivers are not taking up space at these banks, a collective approach involving other stakeholders is still required in order to get to the core of the issue.The Crime Chief had also advised banks to review the operation of their CCTV cameras. He said this should allow them to see how many persons frequent the bank; whether they are doing transactions, or sitting idly. According to him, if this is followed, it could help to uncover how many persons are being robbed.Following the spate of robberies, the GAB had expressed similar concerns over the escalating incidents of persons being targeted after conducting transactions with commercial banks. In condemning these acts, the Association also assured customers and the public that its members are working to address the issue.The GAB has used the opportunity to advise its customers and members of the public to, as far as possible, refrain from conducting large cash transactions, and instead utilize other secure methods of payment, such as Manager’s Cheques or direct payments.The GAB said local security escort services should also be considered for persons operating businesses which may require transportation of cash.A recent shootout which saw three men being killed by Police has been linked to a suspected attempted robbery. The three men shot dead were: 46-year old Dextroy “Dutty” Cordis of Grove, East Bank Demerara; 37-year-old Kwame Assanah; and 57-year-old Errol “Dynamite” Adams.The Police have claimed that the men were in a black car, trailing a customer who had just left Scotiabank on Robb Street, Georgetown. The car reportedly drove up to the customer’s vehicle and two men exited, one brandishing a small firearm at the customer. At the same time, the Police anti-crime patrol pulled up and challenged the would-be bandits, and the fatal shooting ensued.The matter is still pending investigations.