In a similar fashion than X-Men people have begun manifesting superpowers ranging from super strength to telepathy and society needs to adapt its security measures. Most powers are very mundane and have weak effects but occasionally some good powers like invisibility or short range teleportation appear.

How does a bank improve its security against super powered robberies?

To make the matter simple I have listed a few powers that will appear:

Invisibility: Bending light so that the user becomes totally invisible, even to infrared and ultraviolet. The power works in a way that sight is preserved when invisible.

Teleportation: Instantly moving to any location within sight. The user needs to see where they teleport or else they can get stuck in a wall.

Super strength: Brute force but this power might come with invulnerability as well. Basically this includes all superpowers that make someone go berserk.

Mind control: Exactly as it sounds but the limitation is the person being controlled must be in close proximity. Ideas can't be implanted in someones mind, the effects wear off after the power is deactivated.

These are the only superpowers that will be discussed in this question for simplicities sake. Telekinesis would pretty much break all security anyway so there's no point trying to stop it.

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    $\begingroup$ What is the functional upper limit of Super Strength? Additionally, how many people can Mind Control affect at one time? Also are we looking at the Vault or the Tellers? $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Jan 16, 2020 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ There is no need to change bank security. It's not 1928. Everything's digital. Sometimes imbeciles still rob banks, and the biggest score they can hope for is a minuscule sum that's on hand for bank teller drawers. They can teleport all they want, but they're probably better off robbing liquor stores and gas stations. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Jan 16, 2020 at 21:17
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    $\begingroup$ 99% sure this is a dupe, but I cannot find it. Anyone else looked? $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Jan 16, 2020 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM OK, I've looked around and not found something exactly like this. I did find How can we catch a teleporter? which covers one of the four scenarios. Then there is How to prevent invisible people from committing crimes? which at least partially covers another scenario (not invisible to IR/UV there but answers offer independent solutions). $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 16, 2020 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ If this isn’t a dupe, it would be better as separate questions since each power requires different security concerns. (Not trying to be rules pedantic... just saying we will get better answers probably if asked separately.) $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Jan 16, 2020 at 22:05

3 Answers 3


Lets start with your vault, which will be kept closed at all times accept for entry and exit into the vault interior. The only way in or out is by two vault doors, neither of which can be opened at the same time (like an air lock) and both will be vacuume sealed when shut, creating an air gap between the bank, the antechamber, and the vault. Entry to the antechamber is only allowed with a fingerprint and/or retina scan of the bank staff and guests. The Antechamber is monitored by a CCTV system with the guard shack sealed in another part of the bank. The chamber also has a pressure sensitive floor that will display the total weight of all masses in the antechamber. Entry to the Vault is only granted by the guard, and only then after verifying that all weights detected are determined to be logically present in the room. It is impossible to open either door from within the Antechamber and once past the first door, you are not able to leave without permission from the remote guard station. If at any time the vaccume seal is broken, an alarm will sound in the Antechamber and Remote Guard station. If the guard does not override the alarm in a preset amount of time, then a silent alarm will go out and the vault will go into lock-down, which seals off access to the guard until a two man key turn is cleared with the bank manager having one key and a second employee whom he does not know being given the second key.

If both vacuum seals are compromised at the same time, the police are automatically are alerted by silent alarm. All out going alerts are routed from a third location in the bank.

This means that to access the vault, you must be visible (Biometric locks need light to be reflected to work, and unknown weights in the Antechamber are vetted

You can't teleport into or out of the Vault at any time from a point outside of the Antechamber since the vault is never seen from the outside and vice versa.

You can't have a mind controlled employee let you into the vault as you will not be able to see the guard who can let you into the vault and the one in the Antechamber with you cannot open either door from inside the antechamber. And while a super-strong person might be able to just rip the vault doors empty, the alarms will be tripped and alert police, not to mention the identity will be revealed via cameras in the Bank... even if he was normal human size, the vault door would be to large and unweildy for him to rip out of the frame. If it's a person the size of the Hulk, he's already sticking out like a sore thumb. Additionally the manual override of the alarms means that the bank is made harder to escape for all inside if the alarm goes out, and the inability to clear the alarm from within the bank if both doors.

And the mind control is further beaten in that in a full emergency, no less than four employees are aware of a problem in the vault.

Finally... there's this magical thing called FDIC Insurance? If there's money stolen from the bank, the bank will recover it's loss... and most of the bank's monitary value is in liquid investments. Keeping a small number of cash on hand at teller stations is already standard practice in banks, as are techniques such as ink bombs to mark illicit bills rendering them useless as they aren't accepted by stores.


Well, assuming Mind Control allows the villain to essentially say "now enter your PIN" without knowing the PIN, that would make any sort of electronic banking, such as an ATM or Internet banking absolutely a no-go. So we're now reduced to nothing but physical locations only. If not, then I guess the easiest solution is to just give everyone their own super secret passwords that they memorize, and now the bad guys would have to figure out the victim's password the same way that they do in our world.

Can two people attempt to mind-control someone at the same time? IE, could the bank have their own mind-controller who can take over a customer's mind strictly to ask "Are you making this decision of your own volition?" because that would be my immediate counter to a bad-faith mind controller.

Teleportation and invisibility are both nice, but they're also both countered fairly easily-- just put weight sensors on the floor in the places where you don't want them. If the weight sensor is triggered when there isn't supposed to be anyone in there, then it sets off an alarm, seals the area, and maybe sprays something like fluorescent/smelly paint at the area where the sensor just went off. Now it's going to be difficult/impossible for the culprit to escape justice (we have semi-similar measures for riot police to track protestors in the real world today; Chinese MPs have recently used them against protestors in Hong Kong).

To counter teleporters, maybe the vault area is irregularly shaped? IE, it's sort of "ribbed," with random sections of the wall jutting out, random areas curving back in, etc. From the outside, it's a box. On the inside, it's a series of small chambers that maybe don't use space super efficiently, but make it incredibly dangerous to try to teleport in. Or perhaps money and such are all stored in rooms that are almost exactly the size of whatever needs to be stored in them? If there's less than one human's worth of space behind a locked door, a teleporter will have a very hard time jumping in there without teleporting their leg or body into a physical object and losing it.

Another counter-measure to make sure that an invisible person doesn't just tag along and stick very close to a person who should legitimately be in the vault-- spray the area down with a cheap gas, like steam. Being invisible won't stop the solid from bouncing off of their person, and it would reveal any sneaky individual trying to make their way into the vault.

Super strength has probably the absolute easiest solution-- do what we do to take care of regular strength. Hire other strong guys. If one strong man wants to try to take on a bank with regular security guards, he can just do that. If that bank has eight security guards with super strength wandering around, he's gonna need a super-powered criminal posse. Maybe the bank even hires a mind-control person or two; just counter the bad guys on your own terms. And the nice thing about them is that they don't need to be (and likely shouldn't be) obvious to the public. They can just look like normal schmucks going about their duty, or they can even serve double-duty as the tellers and money-movers (a super strong guy would be great to have around when you need to transport physically heavy items from one point to another!)

This all obviously costs money for the bank, so it's unlikely that you'll see as many banks as we do now-a-days. You'd probably see only a few per city, with only a few branches for every few thousand people. Rural communities would be hit the hardest by this, as anyone wishing to drop off a paycheck or pick up cash for the week will have to travel into the nearest town to get that advance. Hope you saved enough cash to get gas on the way into Indianapolis, Farmer Ted. It's a three hour drive each way from PoDunk, and now you have to do it once a month! Maybe we'd see the advent of a barter system from these people, as they wouldn't want to be bothered so darned much? But that's besides the point....

The final issue here is determining that you get good, honest supers to counter the bad supers. The bank's biggest risk is the people who are already on the inside; if those supers turn on them, there's not a whole lot that can be done to stop them. Easiest way around that is to just hang onto their personal data, same as we do in the real world. SSN, photo ID, copy of the birth certificate, etc.


You didn't say anything about technology level, so I'll assume around our own. In the same way you mentioned no superpower to counter this, so I assume there is none.

One at a time:

Invisibility: Pressure plates. If you have a room in which the floor, the walls and the ceiling are sensitive to pressure, you can monitor how many people you have in that room. Than if you make your dependents go in one at a time you can check that with the information you have about them. You'd need to put this room before the vault and make sure that the door to enter it and the door to reach the vault can be opened only one at a time.

Teleportation: If they need to see where they go it's totally useless. Just a normal closed door would be enough. On the other hand if the problem are solid objects, than you need something that can be moved. For example if you store the valuables in things like the moving shelves of archives (image from wikipedia) moving shelves To this you need to fix two things. First the space between the shelves that you need to access them. Instead of closing them all leaving one open you could distribute the open space between all of them by leaving everyone a bit open so that it's not enough for a person to teleport in. This would be better if controlled by a computer to reduce the bother and to make sure no one forgets or purposefully leaves one open. As per the corridor next to the shelves, I'd say bars of metal that can exit the wall and be retracted. And you open only the least amount to let the employee in and out.

Super strength: It's not clear how strong, but the protection of many nuclear reactors can withstand the impact of airplanes crashing into them. You can use something similar to protect the inner vault.

Mind control: You have two solution. One is to make the path that reaches the vault long enough that they exit the range. The other is to make the decision of letting someone in needs the additional approval of someone remote. This person would be in an undisclosed location with access to the surveillance system of the bank. At worse this person would be able to temporarily prevent the bank employee to live the vault with valuables that he has no reason to move.

Telekinesis: If it's the mechanical telekinesis, then you just need electric locks. Then it obviously depend on their strength and limitations, but as long as it's reasonable, it should be doable.

All together:

If you have them all together, then you need the room anti invisibility and anti intrusion to be just before the vault. You need the anti strength wall to be applied to the whole vault and to leave inside no teleportation spots, as discussed above. You'd need a good surveillance system and the ability to remotely monitor the bank.

How to secure the remote operator:

To protect the remote operator from invisibility you can use the same thing as the bank. From super-strength you need a quickly accessible button to disconnect them from the back system. From teleportation and mind control you just need to make the system lock the vault if there is foreign weight or if the facial recognition software detects someone who shouldn't be there. This not only for the room of the operator, but all the area around it from which a mind controller could operate. This shouldn't be a problem as it's a remote location and not a bank full of clients you don't trust.

Cracking the infostructure.

This is the best way I can think of to rob this bank. Either cracking their system or the way the system is updated. In any case this has no difference from the current situation. Instead of a mind controller you put a gun to a programmer that is employed by the bank. I doubt it makes that much difference. Particularly with a random civilian who didn't sign up for that risk. In any case this is not a concern as it wouldn't introduce any new threat linked to the superpowers.

Other implications.

This kind of design would probably make you have fewer of the smallest subsidiary. Instead of ten small you have one big enough to afford the building costs, but I doubt anything less than one tenth would be required. As per the remote rooms they are probably the most costly, but you don't need that many of them. One could easily check on many subsidiaries. Other than this I doubt there would be any change. Probably you wouldn't be allowed to go anywhere near the vault and there may be checks on your superpowers if you want to be employed in a bank (Like no teleporters can access the vault). As per remote locations, as I said there is not much difference between a gun and a mind controller. Particularly if you have family and most people do.