Roving patrols help California bank guard its branches

To curb bank crime in California -- in which Los Angeles ranks as the nation's bank-robbery capital -- a new crime-prevention force has appeared on the streets of San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.

Uniformed men and women on foot patrol and in policelike cruisers are focusing on trouble spots. Their employer is Crocker National Bank of San Francisco.

Calling the street patrols the first of their kind, the bank uses more than two dozen security officers and 14 marked cars to keep eyes open in areas of 41 of its 377 statewide offices.

The biggest component -- 10 cars and 15 patrol personnel -- is assigned to Los Angeles. The units concentrate on the Wilshire corridor, a section of busy Wilshire Boulevard that slices from near downtown Los Angeles to Beverly Hills.

Patrols units, bearing Crocker markings, look like standard police vehicles. Each security force members wears a police-type uniform and carries a radio. The operation is similar in northern California.

The program gives Crocker "greater mobility within these areas for security purposes," explains Jay Dixon, a Crocker vice-president in charge of security. "The force will operate on a seemingly random schedule based in actuality on robbery trends."

Data on risk analysis, past robberies, and robbery trends have been programmed into a computer, and the output is being used to predict potential robberies. The ability to foretell trouble spots is then used to help draw up patrol schedules.

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