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Security Lacking At Check Cashing Stores

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Check Cashing Store

PASADENA, Calif. (CBS 2) — “What was the first thing you saw?”

“Guy coming at me with a gun.”

From any angle on security video—it was frightening.

“He kept telling me that heroes always die. That if I was going to press an alarm that I wouldn’t be a hero. He’d kill me.”

Jamie is too afraid to show her face. She was just 20 years old when the hooded robber easily jumped the counter – carrying a gun – at the check cashing and loan store where she was working in Pasadena in 2007.

“I remember praying that the cops were going to come right then because we were out in the front.”

There was no protective glass. No security guard. Jamie was all alone as he demanded she empty the cash drawer. She secretly triggered the silent alarm only to find out later the batteries were dead.

“I was waiting for someone to come and help me because I thought he was going to kill me. And nobody came.”

As he held the gun near the floor the man ordered Jamie to open the safe which was in plain view. He even waited for the time release mechanism to spit out more money. And when he got all he could get – he took her in the back room.

“I asked him if he was going to rape me and he just stared at me. And that was the longest stare. I told him if you’re going to rape me, I just don’t want to live. I was scared.”

He tied Jamie’s hands and feet with twist ties – but left without assaulting her. She hopped around. Tried to use the phone to call for help but couldn’t. Finally some customers walked in and untied her.

“What goes through your mind as a mother?”

“As a mother watching this? Where’s the security. Where’s the safety? The protective glass they usually have?”

Jamie’s mother still finds it painful to watch this security video, wondering where was the security.

“You’re a sitting duck in there. All of that cash in there. There’s no protection.”

Police departments around the country are starting to recognize the dangers. And some cities, like here in Cypress in Orange County – have enacted a law trying to protect both employees and customers.

“We all know they have cash on hand just like a bank has cash so they’re obviously a target.”

But unlike banks in Police Chief Mark Cocoyam’s city of Cypress, the check cashing stores are ripe for robberies. There have been eight in the past three years. But no bank robberies during the same period.

So the new law is now limiting hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and ordering stores to come up with a security plan that could include bullet proof glass – and in some situations the chief can order them to hire a security guard.

“This is something that will be a safety measure for victims, their families as well as the police officers out on the street.”

Jamie would have liked that safety measure. As she can’t forget these images – and the gunman’s death threat.

“When I heard heroes always die. That stuck with me for a long time.”

No one has been charged in this case but Pasadena police believe a suspect arrested in Monrovia for similar robberies may be responsible.

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