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Family Security ATM: The Need for a Security Plan
by Chris McGooey, The Crime Doctor

Most families have not formally discussed ATM Machine robbery “what if” scenarios.

Will your family be prepared or will have to rely on instinct in response to a robbery. What if their response instincts are wrong or their reactions inappropriate? Will they cooperate or fight with the robber under stress and fear? Have you discussed what to do if the ATM machine robber wants to kidnap you?

Family Security ATM: Machines

ATM cash machines have been incorporated in our way of life. They offer a real convenience to those on the run but at the same time offer an element of risk. Using an ATM machine safely requires awareness and a little planning. Just because an ATM machine is open and available 24-hours a day doesn’t mean it is safe to use it. Most ATM robberies occur at night between 8:00 PM and midnight.

Bank ATM robbers are usually males under 25 years of age and most work alone. ATM robbers are usually nearby waiting for a victim to approach and withdraw cash. Most ATM robbery victims are women and were alone when robbed. Most ATM robbery victims claim that they never saw the robber coming. Most ATM robbers threaten the victim with a gun or claim to have a concealed gun. If you or your family members use ATM cash machines on a regular basis, here are some tips that can make the process a little safer.

  • Use only ATM machines in well-lighted, high-traffic areas.
  • Don’t use ATM machines that are remote or hidden such as being located behind buildings, behind pillars or away from public view.
  • Beware of obvious hiding places like shrubbery or overgrown trees.
  • ATM robbers like to have the element of surprise with no witnesses.
  • Get a list of ATM locations from your bank and keep it in your car.
  • Choose an ATM that looks and ‘feels’ safer, even if it is a couple of miles out of the way.
  • Try and limit your use to daylight hours while the bank is still open.
  • When you drive up to an ATM location, scan the area for any suspicious persons.
  • If you see anyone suspicious standing nearby or sitting alone in a car, don’t hesitate to drive away. Listen to your ‘gut’ instinct about the relative safety of an exterior ATM Machine location.
  • When you approach a bank ATM on foot be prepared and have your access card ready.After inserting your card and your PIN number keep looking behind you.
  • If anyone suspicious or seemingly dangerous approaches terminate your transaction and leave immediately, even if it means leaving your ATM card in the machine.
  • When you receive cash from the machine don’t openly count it…put it away immediately, extract your card, and walk away.
  • If you use your car at a bank drive-thru ATM machine the same rules apply.
  • Make sure there are no obvious hiding places or suspicious persons loitering in the area.If there are, listen to your gut instinct and drive away.
  • Keep the car in gear, doors locked, with your foot firmly on the brake, while using the ATM machine.Keep a close eye on your rear and side view mirrors during the transaction.
  • Robbers almost always approach from the rear on the drivers’ side.If you see anyone approaching, drive off even if it means leaving your ATM card behind.
  • You can always retrieve it later or cancel the card.If you are confronted by an armed robber, just give up your money without argument. The cash is not worth serious injury or death.
  • Only use ATM machines in a well-lighted, open, high-traffic area during the daytimeATM machines in supermarkets are safer for nighttime use
  • Avoid ATM machines adjacent to obvious hiding places
  • When you approach an ATM scan the area first for loiterersHave your card ready and leave quickly, not counting your cash in public
  • Walk or drive away immediately if your instincts tell you so
  • Don’t argue with a robber, if confronted, and give up the cash
  • Don’t fight with or attempt to follow the robber
  • Drive to a safe place and immediately call the police
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