GPS Tracking Technology is Making Bank Robberies More Challenging

GPS Tracker Leads To Bank Robber’s Capture In Rock Hill

As long as there have been banks, there have been people willing to rob them. Why? Because there is no asset more desirable and versatile than good old money. Every year, hundreds of financial institutions are targeted by armed and dangerous criminals. The acts are rarely more complicated than stickup, grab and go. Then stash the cash. However, the getaway is no longer as easy as it used to be thanks to bank GPS trackers. David Herbert Massie, a suspected bank robber,  learned this the hard way when a GPS tracking device stashed in the cash he stole led to his arrest. Here is the story.

According to information first published on Herald Online, Rock Hill police apprehended the suspected bank robber in November, thanks to a hidden GPS tracker hidden in the money bag. The suspect, David Herbert Massie, was caught with $1,400 cash when he had fled the scene on a bicycle. Massie admits to possessing the stolen funds but questions how the items were acquired.

Massie, 45, faces charges including armed robbery and weapon offenses. He sought bail at the Moss Justice Center, remaining jailed since November 20. Prosecutor Chris Epting explained Massie’s arrest near the India Hook Road bank. He reportedly threatened a teller with a gun, concealing his identity with a ski mask.

“Thanks to GPS technology, we located him swiftly,” Epting stated. The GPS, alongside the robbery proceeds, a firearm, and a ski mask, were found in Massie’s possession. An encounter with police resulted in Massie being shot in the hand. He also allegedly wielded a knife during his arrest, though no officers were injured.

Massie’s reasons for being in Rock Hill, leaving Pittsburgh behind, remain unknown. Notably, he has no prior criminal record. Massie’s legal defense hints at a different story behind his possession of the robbery money. His lawyer, Devon Nielson, emphasizes Massie’s anticipation to explain in court.

Judge Dan Hall, however, denied bail, citing community safety concerns.

GPS tracking marks a significant advancement in bank security, replacing older methods like bait money and dye packs. Bait money involves cash with recorded serial numbers. Dye packs, hidden within stacks of bills, release ink or gas upon unauthorized removal, marking the money and possibly the robber.

10 Key Facts Of The Bank Robbery Incident

  1. Event Date and Location: David Herbert Massie was caught following a bank robbery in November 2023 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He appeared in York County court on February 1, 2024.
  2. Suspect: David Herbert Massie, 45, from Pittsburgh, with no prior criminal record.
  3. Incident: Massie fled on a bicycle with $1,400 in cash stolen from a bank. He was apprehended by Rock Hill police thanks to a GPS tracker hidden in the money bag.
  4. Charges: Massie faces charges of armed robbery and three weapons crimes.
  5. Court Appearance: Massie sought bond during his court appearance at the Moss Justice Center, having been jailed without bond since his arrest on November 20, 2023.
  6. Prosecution’s Statement: Prosecutor Chris Epting stated that Massie accosted a teller at gunpoint, wearing a ski mask before fleeing. The GPS tracker helped police locate him on a bicycle, shortly after the robbery.
  7. Evidence: At the time of arrest, Massie had the bag containing the robbery money, a GPS device, a gun, and a ski mask.
  8. Confrontation with Police: Massie was shot in the hand after pointing a gun at officers and allegedly pulled a knife while being taken into custody. No officers were injured.
  9. Defense’s Argument: Massie acknowledges holding the bag of cash but disputes how he came into possession of it, with his lawyer indicating a different story to be presented in court.
  10. Bail Decision: Judge Dan Hall denied bail, citing Massie as a potential danger to the community.

Advanced GPS Solutions Reinforce Traditional Bank Protections

Banks are increasingly turning to GPS tracking technology to enhance security and aid in the capture of suspected bank robbers. In fact, the use of GPS tracking devices has directly resulted in the capture of bank robbery suspects in Des Plaines, Lake City, and numerous other cities. How does it all work? By simply embedding a small, credit card-sized GPS device within a stack of cash. When this cash is taken during a robbery, the device is activated—usually as soon as it is moved from its designated spot in the cash drawer. This activation triggers a signal to the bank’s security team and local law enforcement, allowing them to track the stolen money in real-time through an online interface. The location is updated constantly, providing detailed maps that show the money’s movement with precision. And boom! Police can easily locate and capture the suspect.

Aside from GPS tracking, banks employ several other techniques to deter robbers and assist police in apprehending suspects:

  • Bait Money. This traditional method involves keeping a stash of cash with pre-recorded serial numbers at the teller’s station. If stolen, these numbers can help trace the money and potentially identify the robber when they attempt to use the cash.
  • Dye Packs. These are specially designed packets that resemble stacks of cash but contain a dye that explodes a short time after being taken from the bank. The explosion marks the money—and possibly the robber—with an indelible dye, making it evident that the cash is stolen. Dye packs may also release a cloud of gas that sticks to the robber’s skin or clothing or emits a strong, identifiable odor.
  • Surveillance Cameras. High-definition cameras placed throughout the bank provide a visual record of the robbery. This footage is crucial for identifying suspects and can be used as evidence in court.
  • Silent Alarms. These allow bank employees to discreetly notify law enforcement of a robbery in progress without alerting the robber. Silent alarms can significantly reduce the response time of police, increasing the chances of apprehending the suspect near the crime scene.
  • Physical Security Measures. Including time-locked vaults that cannot be opened during a robbery, bulletproof glass, and secure entry points. These measures can act as deterrents, preventing robberies from occurring in the first place.

The introduction of GPS tracking technology signifies a significant leap forward in bank security. It not only offers a more discreet and safer method for tracking stolen funds but also integrates seamlessly with other security measures to create a comprehensive defense against bank robberies. As technology advances, banks continue to explore innovative solutions to protect their assets and ensure the safety of their employees and customers.

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