A teller who handed over about $30,000 in cash to a robber at Standard Chartered Bank's Holland Village branch on Thursday did the right thing, according to the bank, which has tightened security there with a security guard.
Yesterday, an islandwide manhunt continued for the Caucasian man who had brazenly walked into the bank around 11.25am, slipped the teller a piece of paper with his demands, then got away with the money on foot.
The branch did not have a security guard then, but a bank spokesman said it had "in-branch security measures" such as closed-circuit TV cameras and staff "are well trained to respond to such situations".
The teller acted in line with the bank's protocols and "in the best interests of our customers and our colleagues", the spokesman added. "Everyone was safe."
She also said the bank has taken immediate action to further enhance security, without giving details, citing ongoing investigations.
Yesterday, a Certis Cisco security guard was present at the Holland Village branch, but this is understood to be a temporary measure.
Banks contacted said it is not mandatory for banks to have security guards, although many do.
The Straits Times observed yesterday that of the six banks - HSBC, StanChart, OCBC Bank, DBS Bank, Citibank and Maybank - in that stretch of Holland Village, the last two were the only ones that appeared not to have a security guard.
Maybank responded to say that it has Certis Cisco armed guards stationed at all its 22 branches islandwide, including the one at Holland Village.
"In addition, we have standard in-branch security measures such as CCTVs. We have also provided training to our staff to handle such situations and our policy is always to prioritise customer and staff safety," said the Maybank spokesman.
An industry source said bank staff are instructed to hand over money peacefully during a robbery so as not to endanger the safety of staff and customers.
"We always tell staff - don't attempt to bring attention to the robbery. You don't want to agitate the robber or antagonise him. What if he pulls out a gun and it turns into a hostage situation? That's even worse," he said.
Most banks that The Straits Times contacted yesterday said the latest incident has not prompted a review of their security measures, since these are regularly updated.
DBS said its branches are "equipped with robust security systems and features".
A spokesman for OCBC said it has measures such as round-the-clock surveillance cameras and Certis Cisco guards. United Overseas Bank said its branch employees and security personnel have been reminded to be extra vigilant.
It is understood that the police are studying CCTV footage from the vicinity of Holland Village to identify the suspect, who was described as a Caucasian wearing a grey hoodie and mustard trousers. No weapon was seen during the robbery, which was over in minutes.
Business returned to normal yesterday along the stretch where the StanChart branch is located. Before the bank opened at 10am, customers were already waiting in line.
Retiree Daniel Liu, who is in his 60s, said he does not think another robbery will happen. "Singapore is very safe and has a good reputation."
Another retiree in his 60s, Mr Johnny Shing, said: "These things don't usually happen. I think there is no cause for alarm."
More people streamed into the bank during lunchtime, with many seen carrying out transactions at the automated teller machines and making inquiries at the counters.
Outside the branch, a few curious passers-by peered through its glass entrance.
Some customers wondered if the robbery would have happened if a guard had been present.
"I think it would've made a difference," said Mr Willy Lau, 43, who is self-employed.