ATMs typically contain large amounts of cash, up to $100K or more, making them attractive targets for criminals. Thieves can be very creative in finding ways to get to the cash, using trucks, nearby construction equipment or even hand carts to steal the ATM. Sometimes, the criminals break into the machine and steal the cash out of it (a “break-in attack”); other times, they simply steal the entire machine (a “pull out attack”), take it to a secure location, and have plenty of time to break into the cash compartment to get the money inside. Pull out attacks tend to be especially costly for the following reasons:
- Extensive damage to the property and costly repairs.
- Replacing the ATM machine valued at up to $50,000.
- Loss of cash inside the ATM, up to $100,000.
- Sometimes not knowing of the ATM attack until the next morning when employees arrive to open the branch, meaning that the criminals are long gone with their prize.
In recent years, the FBI identified a crime ring targeting ATMs throughout the East Coast and having a very high success rate. Even if one or two of the criminals were arrested, the rest of the ring would break off and start a new rash of attacks somewhere else. Within a small amount of time, over 20 entire ATM machines were ripped from their foundation and stolen in three minutes or less. Video and alarm systems were too slow to notify police in time to catch the criminals so the crimes continued.
Founders Federal Credit Union, serving 210,000 members, became a victim of this crime ring in 2014. The robbers used extreme force, ramming the ATM with a forklift stolen from a nearby job site until the machine broke loose from the concrete base. Using the forklift, they loaded the ATM into a stolen pickup truck and were gone in under three minutes. Six days later, the ATM was found but all of the money was gone.
Founders’ COO of Business Development/Procurement/Security Joe McCain and his team decided to take a proactive approach to protect their machines. A colleague recommended ATM Tracker™, a fully automatic GPS tracking solution that notifies local law enforcement as the pull-out attack is in progress.
McCain and his team identified ten high-risk locations that were most vulnerable to ATM crime. They installed 3SI’s ATM Tracker in these locations and one of the ATMs was attacked within days of the installation. The tracker successfully notified local law enforcement and police were dispatched. Responding units quickly located the truck containing the stolen ATM. The two suspects bailed, so police used helicopters and K-9 units in the search for the suspects. The morning ended with recovery of the ATM, all of the cash contents ($113,000) and both robbers in custody.
Impressed with how well ATM Tracker worked, Founders installed trackers into all of their freestanding ATM machines, a total of 74 units. Word spread that Founders FCU had taken these measures to “harden the target” and they have not experienced another ATM pull-out attack since.
“ATM Tracker is extremely low maintenance. The only maintenance required is battery replacement once every four years. The tracking device is small in size, so it does not get in the way of ATM technicians servicing the machines, but operates exceptionally well and efficiently.”
Founders Federal Credit Union
COO Business Development/
One of the challenges in apprehending ATM robbers is that they typically commit the crime in the middle of the night when no witnesses are around. Construction equipment and trucks are left unattended at job sites so can be easy to steal to assist with the crime. Add to that the fact that surveillance video is less effective in identifying criminals in the darkness. Financial institutions and businesses can realize cost-effective 24/7 protection by installing ATM Tracker. Standalone, drive up, and smaller machines located in pharmacies, convenience stores, outside events, are especially vulnerable to attack and can be protected with ATM Tracker.
This highly effective solution has recovered 95% of all stolen ATM cash and has led to many criminal apprehensions.
ATM Theft Solutions
ATMs are frequently targeted because the payoff is large and the consequences are minimal. Visit our Cash Machine Solutions page to learn more.