Thursday, October 16, 2008

Brink's And CitiBank Endanger Public With Sloppy Money Transfers On The Street

The photo to the right was the only one I snapped, and in retrospect I regret that, but at the time I was worried about creating a scene with Brink guards, one of whom had his gun drawn and finger on the trigger guard.

Brink's was making a delivery to CitiBank on Broadway and 96th st yesterday afternoon at approximately 3:45pm. Turning the corner from 96th onto Broadway, the truck had awkwardly backed up into it's parking spot, with the back doors facing the sidewalk. I passed the truck when the back doors were both swung open. One guard had dropped a hand truck out, and another stood by the bank's door, which is just beyond the bottom right corner of this photo. The guard at the back doors of the truck started loading boxes of coins onto the hand truck, while dozens of clear bags of cash, packed with stacked bills, sat inside the truck, clearly visible from the street.

Indeed it was the sight of that money that compelled me to stop and observe with amazement, for a moment it seemed as if I was watching Donald Duck's rich uncle make a deposit. The whole operation seemed ripe for disaster, with a very busy Broadway teeming with pedestrians on a beautiful sunny afternoon, as well as the 123 Subway stop nearby. The guard at the bank's door told me I couldn't stand there on the sidewalk, as the other continued stacking the hand truck with cash and coins. "I can't?" I asked "No," he replied "We are dealing with cash here." Seemed reasonable to me, so I moved to the side.

The guard stacking the money grabbed two clear bags the size of duffel bags, one by one, out of the back of the truck and put them on top of boxes of coins already stacked on the hand truck. The bills appeared to be ten dollar bills, or one hundred dollar bills, I couldn't be sure. Maybe they were a mix of multiple denominations. Each clear bag had dozens of what looked like pristine, stacked bills inside, each stack being a few inches high, maybe 4 or 5 inches. A few hundred bills in each stack, a few dozen stacks in each of the two clear bags.

The doors to the truck were still open, the many other bags of cash inside clearly visible to anyone walking by. I was dumbfounded, it all seemed so very sloppy, taking place on the sidewalk with pedestrians going about every which way; east, west, crossing the street, coming around obscured from parked cars appearing right next to the truck, a busy vendor to the left of the truck hawking his goods. Momentarily it occurred to me that if anyone was thinking about hijinks, each guard had a gun, as well as I imagine a driver if he was in the truck, and that this was not a good place to be right now. This was too sloppy, and it didn't look good.

The guard standing near the bank readied to open it. The guard with the money unholstered his gun, removed the gun, and placed it near his hip with his finger resting on the trigger guard.

With his other hand he leaned the hand truck back, pulling it up over the curb, and made his way to the bank about 15ft back, walking backwards while looking cautiously behind him and around him. I waited for one of the bags of cash to spill off the hand truck as he awkwardly pulled it towards the bank. Pedestrians maneuvered around the guard and money, two clear bags of cash on top of the hand truck, with an untold obscene amount of money just tempting anyone to try and make a go for it.

It was shocking, and did not seem appropriate. There is no way this can be protocol I thought. It seems illogical that CitiBank or Brink's would approve of this kind of transfer of cash. It was a complete recipe for disaster. Calling out for some dumb fuk to try his luck. The opportunities were many. While loading the money, stacking it, wheeling it over. You would imagine that instead of taking a couple of minutes to stack the money outside of the truck, while both back doors to the truck were open, on a busy pedestrian thoroughfare, the guards would have already had the cash and coin bagged up in dark bags ready to be delivered into the bank as soon as the back door opened, attempting to minimize any windows of opportunity a criminally minded person might try and exploit, never mind any unfortunate accident that might occur on such a busy street.

Emails sent to CitiBank and Brink's were not returned.

The whole operation took about 2-3 minutes after the truck awkwardly backed up to the curb. Anything could have gone wrong at that time, particularly when the guard has his gun unholstered and drawn. The wrong sudden movement, someone tripping into him, a group of rambunctious kids running around the corner and being unaware of the scene, etc...

I imagine the guards are trained well, but really, the whole thing was an unfortunate accident waiting to happen, as if they expected the worst at any moment. Which is a reasonable expectation, and reinforces why a money transfer such as this should be much more efficient and thought out, without spending two minutes in public on a busy thoroughfare stacking untold amounts of money onto a hand truck while your gun is unholstered and drawn.

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