In most cases, a dye pack is placed in a hollowed-out space within a stack of banknotes, usually $10 or $20 bills. This stack of bills looks and feels similar to a real one, with technology allowing for the manufacturing of flexible dye packs which are difficult to detect by handling the stack.
When the marked stack of bills is not used, it is stored next to a magnetic plate near a bank cashier, in standby or safe mode, ready to be handed over to a potential robber by a bank employee. When it is removed from the magnetic plate, the pack is armed, and once it leaves the building and passes through the door frame, a radio transmitter located at the door will trigger a timer (typically 10 seconds), after which the dye pack will explode and release an aerosol (usually of Disperse Red 9) and sometimes tear gas, intended to permanently stain and destroy the stolen money and mark the robber's body with a bright red color. The chemical reaction causing the explosion of the pack and the release of the dye creates high temperatures of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) which further discourages a criminal from touching the pack or removing it from the bag or getaway vehicle.
- "I've heard of bank robbers being foiled by a "dye pack" put in their money stash. What is a "dye pack"?". How Stuff Works. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
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Dye packs are used in over 75% of banks in America