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Crimewatch: FBI to launch Bandit Shield at banks nationwide

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The FBI is set to launch a nationwide program called Bandit Shield, which was launched in Austin, to help cut down on bank robberies.

Traci Gregory was a victim of a violent take down bank robbery in August 2011. She is the bank manager at the Austin Telco Federal Credit Union in Round Rock.

"It was pretty much like a hostile takeover," said Gregory. "The aftermath of the whole thing looked like a horror movie. It looked like something out of a movie, blood everywhere."

Two armed men ran in the Austin Telco Federal Credit Union in Round Rock last august where Gregory is the Branch Manager. While she was not harmed, her two co-workers were seriously injured.

"He hit my senior teller in the back of the head with the back of the gun and so that required staples and he consistently kicked my head teller in the face and in the ribs and he was so disfigured, you could hardly recognize him," said Gregory.

The two co-workers are back at work.

Charmus Paul Gaines and Emmanuel Doyle were convicted for the bank robbery and sentenced September 11.

The FBI says they were caught largely because the Credit Union is part of Bandit Shield. Since the start of the program in Austin, in January, the FBI says three bank robberies have been solved.

"The Bandit Shield program was developed by agents and local police detectives interviewing bank robbers throughout the years, collecting information about what works and what doesn't work from actual bank robbers themselves. We've collected information from bank security officers about what works and doesn't work for them," said FBI Special Agent Erick Vasys.

Part of the Bandit Shield program requires banks to have up-to-date technology, which includes the highest resolution for all its surveillance cameras.

The FBI will soon launch the program nationwide.

It was also an Austin Special Agent who developed, a website that tracks wanted bank robbers, like the Bearded Bandit and the Lone Star Bandit. One of the more notorious, the ZZ Top Bandit, has not been heard from recently. The FBI believes he is responsible for many bank heists.

"Upwards of 20," said Vasys. "So he's either out of the country, incarcerated, or his dead because he hasn't hit in a while but when he hits you know its him."

Vasys says serial bank robbers share a few characteristics.

"You're dealing with individuals who need money and almost always, unfortunately, the theme is drug dependency, drug abuse, or drug indebtedness to a drug trafficking organization. But almost always when we arrest armed bank robbers, and we interview them, we do a case history of their lives, it comes out very clearly that they are learning disabled, a drop out, individual who's been around violence their whole life so use of violence is not a big deal," he said.

The FBI says not enough banks are part of bandit shield. Special Agent Vasys says he hopes what Gregory and the others went through will change their minds.

"People have been through counseling because of it," said Vasys.

The August 29, 2011 robbery won't ever leave the minds of Gregory and her co-workers.

"We'll still always going to be on guard, we're always going to be, that anxious feeling every time someone loud comes in with a very loud voice," said Gregory.

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