Trying to stop bank robberies in Chattanooga, Tenn.

With robberies on the rise, bank security work with police to change the trend


After last month's branch robbery, First Tennessee stationed an armed guard outside the front door, Mr. Sanford said.

"We were scheduled to get (a guard) later this year there, and (the robbery) just moved that up a little," he said.

"If you come to one of our centers with a guard, we hope that your encounter with that guard will be a pleasant experience," Mr. Sanford said. "I know that guard we have downstairs is very friendly and speaks and talks to customers and helps out."

Banks are investing more in security features, as well.

With $7 million in renovations completed last year, SunTrust Bank added bullet-resistant glass at some of its branches, including the teller area at the bank's St. Elmo branch.

Mr. Sanford said that, while banks use bullet-resistant glass in various ways, having it inside the branch would spoil the customer service experience. You won't find it anywhere except at the drive-through at First Tennessee's Chattanooga branches, he said.

"In my history at the bank, only one time has anybody attempted to rob us at the drive-in," Mr. Sanford said. "We had a Santa Claus on a motorcycle (who) tried to rob us at a drive-in once. He didn't get away with anything. It was probably eight or 10 years ago."