If you robbed a bank in Seattle last year, the FBI had a 70 percent chance of catching you, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It was the highest clearance rate of any FBI division and way above the national average of 47 percent of cases solved. Agent Larry Carr hails a new FBI initiative that trains employees to take steps that could deter would-be bandits and better aid law enforcement. Called Safecatch, it empowers bank tellers and managers to greet in a friendly manner suspicious people who enter a bank and to call 911 faster if they think something is wrong. The FBI hopes to change years of banking practices in which employees were instructed to do nothing more than be a witness.
Seattle recorded 272 robberies last year, the nation’s fourth-highest number and an 18 percent increase over 2005. One bank has employees approach suspicious people — such as someone wearing a hat and dark sunglasses — in a friendly manner and say, “Hi, I don’t recognize you as one of our regular customers but I’d be happy to help you if I could see some photo ID.” It’s simple and disguised as good customer service, but it intimidates robbers who want to get inside the bank without being noticed.