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SCOTT JAGOW: How do you foil a bank robber? Try killing him with kindness. Seattle has a big problem with bank robberies, the last decade, one of the highest rates in the nation. But a local FBI agent has come up with a new way to handle this. Amy Radil reports from KUOW in Seattle.
AMY RADIL: Bank robbers often look distinctive. Most wear hats low over their eyes, in addition to sunglasses, gloves and heavy coats.
FBI bank robbery coordinator Larry Carr says when someone like this enters a bank, employees tend to hang back.
So Carr helped develop a program called Safecatch that encourages employees to take the lead and give the potential robber a way out. He says an effusive greeting may make all the difference.
LARRY CARR:"Hi, welcome to the bank. I don't recognize you as one of our customers. I can help you right over here at new accounts desk. I just need to remove your sunglasses and hat, and if you have some I.D., that'd be great." And we walk away from that individual and let them absorb that for a few minutes.
Carr says, chances are, the robber will leave the bank.
He says the Seattle area, where the program has been piloted, has seen about half the average number of bank robberies so far this year.
Carr says he's getting training requests all the time. Bank managers say it's the logical extension of the customer greeters used to curb shoplifting in retail stores.
In Seattle, I'm Amy Radil for Marketplace.