Impersonation is a crime on the rise. In this article, we discuss a real-life event that highlights some of the consequences of impersonation and the measures we need to take to prevent it.

A Global Private Bank – The Latest Victim of Impersonation

‘The Noah’s Ark Job’

It is Tuesday 5 July 2022 and like the rest of the UK, Brixton in South London is enjoying a spell of unusually warm weather. A security guard walks into the local branch of a global, private bank and as he is wearing the usual uniform, helmet and visor of his occupation, the bank staff see nothing suspicious about him – he is there to collect the bank’s cash takings for safe transit, a routine occurrence.

Although he isn’t wearing the uniform of the bank’s usual security company and his ID is fake, both are close enough to dupe the staff into handing over six security boxes, each carrying £25,000.

Maybe it was the heat of the day, but although it’s policy that cash boxes must be removed from the bank one at a time, they also fail to notice that he is carrying the boxes out two by two. That’s why it’s already been dubbed ‘The Noah’s Ark Job’

It isn’t until he fails to return to sign for the boxes that the staff suspect something might be wrong. Running out into the street, they find neither guard nor security van. A quick call to the security company confirms their worst fears: no collection was due and they have been conned out of a cool £150,000.

How did they get away with it?

As the police begin their investigations, including a suggestion that it might have been an inside job, other questions will inevitably be asked.

  • Someone noticed the crook wasn’t wearing a genuine uniform. Why wasn’t the alarm raised?
  • How can it be so easy to fake an ID that will fool persons who are accustomed to seeing the genuine article on a regular basis?
  • Why didn’t the fact that the thief took the boxes out two at a time raise questions, particularly as this would have differed from standard procedure?

You could say that this was a bungled robbery, had it not been so successful. There were so many inconsistences that it is strange that not one was picked up on until it was too late. There will undoubtedly be an enquiry, and possibly fresh changes will be made to tighten up security.

But what if the criminals had been smarter? What if they had carried the boxes out one at a time, according to correct procedure? What if they had managed to obtain genuine security company uniforms?

Imitation is a severe form of criminality

It is a crime that is on the rise. The emergency services, security companies and any organisation that uses a recognisable uniform to identify its workforce is at risk. Even volunteers for charitable organisations have been impersonated to gain access to private homes or swindle people out of hard-earnt savings.

It isn’t just impersonators with criminal intentions who commit this crime. To dress and behave in a manner that imitates a police officer is a criminal offence, even if the offender is doing it to satisfy a fantasy. There are calls to introduce similar laws covering other emergency services such as paramedics, and for good reason – fantasists who take their game too far are putting people’s lives at risk.

How can we reduce the risk?

Outlawing the unauthorised wearing of a uniform is only part of the solution. Like the controversial US gun laws, making something illegal to own won’t prevent the illegal possessions from falling into the wrong hands. The only way to minimise the risk is to cut their supply chain.

  • From police authorities to charities, organisations must have strict policies that control the circulation of uniforms, with each item of clothing being accounted for and checked at regular intervals.
  • If a new design of uniform is launched, care must be taken to retrieve all old-style uniforms. Few members of the public will spot the difference particularly in the early stages of the new design’s launch.
  • If an employee leaves the service or company, all uniforms must be returned and signed for. If these are not recirculated to other employees, they should be securely destroyed.

How can secure destruction be guaranteed?

Uniforms are generally made from durable fabrics that are designed to last for a long time and cope with tough use. Cutting them into small pieces so they can’t be reassembled without looking like a patchwork quilt may be an option, but it is laborious and time-consuming work.

Avena Group are specialists in secure clothing, garment, textile & uniform disposal, providing a comprehensive, bespoke service that fits the requirements of each of its clients.

  • We only employ BS7858 security-vetted personnel to collect garments from your premises.
  • To enhance the security of your location we provide you with one or more SECUREBRAND Textile Shredding Collection Consoles. Unique to Avena, these allow you to place discarded garments in secure unit vans that are unmarked (to conceal the nature of their contents) and are protected by CCTV cameras and real-time satellite tracking devices for the entire journey back to our shredding facility
  • At the shredding facility the garments continue to be handled solely by our security-vetted personnel and are fed directly into a powerful industrial shredder. This irreversibly destroys the garments, reducing them to separate fibres.

How does this affect the environment?

As an ISO 14001 registered company with an obligation to protect the environment, we repurpose the fibres as padding material for acoustic panels in products such as office screens and vehicle interiors, preventing them from going straight to landfill.

How can I find out more?

If you would like to find out more about Avena’s secure textile destruction service, call us today on 0845 5219 892 or fill in our contact form and a member of our support team will contact you within 24 hours.