You know the bell is ringing


Whilst working changing the clock and signalling system in a regional bank in the centre of Bradford, I was working in the vault in the basement at the bottom of a flight of stairs, I had started the alteration work and identified myself to the ARC so that I could disconnect the signalling system. 

At the top of the stairs was a door out to the street, and another door which accessed the secure counter side of the bank which was code locked so required me to attract the attention of one of the tellers to open the door if I needed access to telephones etc.

The control panel was the newer CPA6 relay design and the holes where the Burgot frame had been removed for this upgrade were still visible on the other side to the vault door.

When the lid of the CPA6 was removed (the panel is large, approx. twenty inches wide and forty inches tall), the external sounder rings to warn of a tamper event, engineers used matchsticks, silver foil rolled up and rubber bands to defeat the tamper switches (three of) whilst working on the panels. 

In the vault, even with the door open, you could not hear the outside bell ringing. At some point, one of the defeats must have slipped and the bell was merrily ringing outside the bank. 

As I climbed the stairs to go for lunch, a police officer opened the side door and walked in, as I was the first person he saw, he said, “do you know the bell is ringing?”, I said yes I can hear it now, just a minute and went back down to the vault, tightened the rubber band and it stopped. 

I went back up the stairs and the police officer had gone. 

Only then did it strike me that I could have been anyone. The officer did not ask me for ID, did not talk to any bank staff and had opened a back door that should have been locked, as it led directly to the open vault in the basement.

Relating the story to Clancy later that week, he said he had worked at the same bank, and that door was unlocked when he was there. It struck us both that the police officer could have been walking into an armed robbery and had been incredibly lapse.