Mar 13, 2010

Chinese armored car guards: scary or not?

There are lots of banks in China. I have a pretty short commute to work, and I pass by about a dozen banks. In the course of passing by these banks, you'll often encounter armored cars, each of which contain a crack team of security guards. These guards, who appear to have just recently finished junior high and not started to shave yet, each has a menacing-looking shotgun. Here you go:

I've seen plenty of armored cars in America, but it seems like there's ten times as many in Beijing. I would attribute this to:
  • A larger, more densely populated urban area
  • An almost completely cash-based society. They don't use personal checks here. When I pay my rent, I give my landlord a thick, sweaty wad of 100 kuai notes.
I think that all the armored cars in Beijing are run by one company, called Zhenyuan. It's a pretty normal occurrence to be walking near a bank in Beijing, and then a dark green armored van pulls up. A half-dozen pubescent boys holding shotguns pop out like gophers, and they encircle a skinny fellow who carries either a briefcase or little bag of cash. The guards try to appear as serious and menacing as possible as they escort the customer into a bank or other financial institution. A few minutes later they all come out and hightail away.

Here's one pubescent guard and a skinny fellow with some valuable loot in his hands. Maybe bearer bonds? (Hey, it's just like Heat!)

Here's another fellow with a briefcase. Notice the armed guards covering all potential angles of attack. (I wonder if you could rent out one of these teenage guard units to escort you to your bar mitzvah/prom/wedding. That would give a guy some face!)

Here's a husband-wife pair toting suitcases of cash. (What business are these guys in? I want to learn more! I want suitcases of cash too! These two really need to learn about electronic banking.)

I've always wondered what kind of ammunition they have in those shotguns. Is it rubber buckshot? Bean bag rounds? Or do they have actual shot/slugs?

To get answers, I've tried to strike up conversations a few times with the security guards while they're waiting around outside the van. I guess they're under strict instructions not to chat with bystanders, because they completely ignore me. I'll be like, "Hey, how you guys doing today? It's a hot one, huh? Say, what kind of ammo do you guys carry? Can I touch your gun?" (Just kidding about the last question.)

Here is one such security guard that takes himself way too seriously:

Look at the mug on this guy. I bet he could play the lead role in the Chinese version of Observe and Report.

Anyone out there know what ammunition these youngsters are using? I'm pretty sure the government here wouldn't give them actual rounds that they could use in an uprising against the Party. Leave me a comment if you can find out. My personal guess: the shotguns are completely empty, they don't even have less-lethal ammunition. The extra shells on their holsters are inert, and it's all for show. Who really knows, though?


Blogger otternase said...

a good way to find out would be finding some news about actual robberies on these vans which took place. Were any rounds fired? Which injuries were inflicted? This might give a clue. Otherwise personally I wouldn't dare to give any of these kids anything more lethal than a slingshot, they look way to premature to handle a weapon. On the other hand life is cheap a dozen in China, so it might not really matter...

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Leo said...

The shotguns do have slugs loaded in them. I know this because during a famous robbery the guards did fire off rounds. And the guards arn't that young, there probably 25 or somthing.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

@Leo: Thank you for the insight. I didn't realize that these kids actually had lethal ammunition. I've always thought that at worst they had rubber slugs. I'm out in Beijing's Haidian district, so perhaps we have the B-string guards here, which might explain why they are so young. Maybe they get to move on to the more happening Xicheng and Chaoyang districts after they get some experience out here in the sticks.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ya i think your right about the younger rookies being deployed in haidan first because haidan is pretty boring and nothing really happens there

7:52 PM  

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