Personal Security Tips

Kathy Jackson has an excellent post up with some realistic tips for staying alert in real life. Because really, no one wants to be that guy. And really, go read it.

I wanted to relate a story and give you one little piece of knowledge.  When I got off work today, we ran by the bank to make a deposit. It is unseasonably warm in our part of the world and so we had the windows down.  We generally shut off the engine when sitting in the bank drive-thru since our little car is LOUD.

So there we were minding our own business.  We’d already sent our little cylinder to the teller inside and were chatting about things.  I happened to hear the man in the next lane speaking to the teller.  He was sending his cylinder back because he wanted his cash “in hundreds.”

(insert record scratch sounds here)

Do. Not. Do. This.


Full stop.

He has no idea who I am.  I now know that he has at least $200 cash on him.  He is alone. I have a description of his vehicle.  I would have is tag number if I so desired. I could take his picture. I know what he is wearing. I am in a car. He would think nothing of it if I pulled in behind him immediately. He is not likely to notice if I follow him for miles.

I drive a black Sentra.  Were it not remarkably loud, you wouldn’t notice it because there’s about a billion of them on the road. And it makes perfect sense for the person in line beside you to wind up behind you.  I’m background noise.

What if?

What if that person in the next lane isn’t me? What if they hear you ask for that cash back/withdrawal in hundreds? How far will the bad guy follow you for at least $200?

Getting cash in the drive-thru is not a terrible idea. You are in your car already and can go where you want. You will not need to make the walk to a parking lot and it can be relatively private. You can do this in such a way that no one else knows.

Did you know I was a bank teller once? Worked a drive-thru even.

All that empty space on the withdrawal slip? You can write there.  It’s okay.  Perfectly normal and acceptable for you to tell the friendly bank teller how you’d like your cash back by writing in that space. You get the cash you need in the manner you request, and the person in the next lane doesn’t know whether you made a deposit or a withdrawal. Easy as that.

Slipping notes to bank tellers is not always a bad thing.


14 thoughts on “Personal Security Tips”

  1. Good tip but it’s not just the drive-thru. I periodically need to go inside to withdraw funds for special purchases. (The drive-thru can only give $1000 in cash.) The teller stands there, in front of whoever is in line behind or at the next window and counts out my cash in $100 bills. Since the bank has a “no weapons” policy my gun is out in my car. Like you said, you never know who is listening or following you out.

  2. Thanks for these tips, they are absolutely reliable for my family. I also have my own personal protection for real time emergency cases. It’s a cell-phone based application that alerts a monitoring center so 911 emergency responders will be dispatched to the exact location immediately. The selected family and trusted friends is automatically alerted via text, e-mail and phone call. Very amazing application. Check this out:

  3. Funny how things like that seem to be common sense to some of us,and unimaginable to others.Sometimes you can tell the sheep by passive observation;you don’t have to be paranoid,just use some situational awareness.At the liquor store the other night,I put my selection on the counter,and quietly asked the clerk if he could change a hundred.(I really hesitated to show it in front of the people behind me in line,but I had to break it somewhere)The clerk made a sort of show of loudly(it seemed loud to me anyway)counting my change 20,40,60,70,etc.I would have thought they would be more discreet.Luckily,I was parked near the door,but I looked over my shoulder all the way to the

  4. I was on the way to New England for a skiing trip and had to stop for gas in Hartford CT. East Hartford to be exact.
    I prefer to travel at night on long trips, especially when it involves going through, or near, large metro areas. There is much less traffic and usually I only have to share the road with truckers and other “professionals”.
    So here I am, in one of the more dangerous cities on the Eastern Seaboard. It’s about 2AM. I go into the gas station and the clerk is behind 3 inches of bulletproof glass. I slide a $100.00 bill through the slot and say I’m filling up on pump whatever. he take the bill and nods.
    As I start to pump, a voice breaks the night blaring over the speaker ” Sorry,sir, but I cannot change a hundred dollar bill”
    Suddenly, I have now become the center of attention to the denizens of the night lurking about the premises.
    I went inside and swapped out the bill for my credit card. What I told the idiot behind the glass isn’t really fit for publication here except to let him know how happy I was that he made me the most popular person on the block.
    Normally my head is always on a swivel. The swivel was on double duty that night.

  5. Good tips, but at a bank drive up teller I always lock the doors, put all windows except the driver’s side up, keep the truck in gear with my foot on the brake, and pull in as close to the wall/machine as possible. And scan the mirrors unless actively working the ATM screen

    That keeps someone from coming up the driver’s side as fast, ensures that some one has to break a window to get in from the passenger side, and all I have to do is move my foot a few inches to tromp the accelerator and begin E&E out of there.

    I also never get in close enough to a vehicle ahead of me to keep me from maneuvering out. I will sit out in the parking lot with line of sight on the ATM for a few minutes to ensure that if needed.

    Once I have my cash the window comes up and I exit the bank lot ASAP and move to another location (such as an empty section of parking lot) to put everything away, record the transaction etc.

    And of course, I always do my banking with Mr. Browning in attendance.

  6. I agree with RandyGC about keeping all your windows up except the driver’s side. It seems it should be possible to ask for the cash without people in other cars hearing you. Also, I wonder if a request for cash on a note (or even the withdrawal slip) could be considered a robbery attempt. You would have to be careful about how it’s worded. Personally, I don’t like to do that type of transaction from a drive up window. I also don’t keep more than about $100 cash on me. A credit/debit card can be used for most purchases.

    1. It is highly unlikely for a note that accompanies a withdrawal request to be mistaken for a robbery note. If you did try to pass a robbery note through a drive through, the tellers would laugh at you and then report you.

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