When the Bank of Commerce in Idaho Falls was robbed Wednesday morning, all the robbers got away with was funny money. That's because the robbers were sergeants from the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office training bank employees.
"It's a practice-makes-perfect type of situation for them of how to handle these emergency situations so they don't let the stress of the situation overtake them,” said Sgt. Bryan Lovell.
This is the first time the bank has been fake-robbed, so the sergeants kept it simple. One went in as a decoy, while the other slipped a note to the teller demanding money.
"The best thing we need is a good description," said Sgt. Jeff Edwards. “Let the person leave the building, and definitely do those things that will keep them safe, and the customers safe."
Like in Wednesday's drill, it's not always obvious when a bank is being robbed.
“Chances are, there a lot of robberies that most customers are not aware of,” said Lovell. “If you are a customer in a bank and you are aware of a robbery or something suspicious is going on, the best thing is to try to be a good witness."
It's the same as what bank employees are told: Don't try to be a hero.
“Let's say we had a concealed weapon permit holder in there, and he tried to do something to stop to action, but there was another person to help the robber to have his back,” said Edwards. “Then it would put everybody in that building in harm's way.”
Edwards said safety is the first priority for the bank and for you. Edwards said employees and customers should take the following actions:
- Do exactly what the robber asks.
- Be the best witness you can.
- Write down a description of the robber.
- Avoid sudden movements that might upset the robber.
At the training, bank employees were reminded that money can be replaced, but their lives cannot.
Edwards said bank robberies in Bonneville County are rare – about one a year.