Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit have teamed up with Cardtronics to reduce the amount of dangerous ATM thefts in Leeds.
By Georgia Dossis and Liam Pattison
Over the past year the amount of dangerous theft from ATMs around the Leeds area has increased. The number of successful attacks has risen to 33 out of 44.
Cash machines have been an easy target for theft since the day they hit the high streets in 1967. This started by simply cloning cards and over time has moved onto more violent methods.
Attacking an ATM machine can result in up to a five year prison sentence.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “In more rural areas in particular ATMs (cash machines) can be an important community resource with the next nearest available machine often many miles away.
“It can take up to seven months to replace a damaged or stolen machine which can impact directly on a community. As well as the inconvenience a stolen or damaged cash machine can cause, criminals are placing themselves and others in great danger by their actions.
“Criminals are now resorting to extremely dangerous methods in their pursuit to a machine. Tactics include pumping flammable into a machine or dragging it away.”
“ATM attacks are a waste of police time”
A campaign organised by Cardtronics and Yorkshire Humber Regional Organised Crime unit in Castleford took place this month. The aim was to spread awareness about the new anti-attack systems police are installing in ATM machines.
International Managing Director for Cardtronics, Mark Terry said: “ATM attacks are a criminal waste of police time and are absolutely devastating to the local shops and communities where they take place. Not only are they often highly dangerous, they are also completely mindless as only a small handful of attacks actually result in the criminals accessing the cash.
“Despite this, between 2014 and 2018 the number of ATM attacks in the UK have doubled, which is why Cardtronics has invested heavily in the roll-out of our Secure ATM initiative. Secure ATMs possess a range of the latest anti-attack technologies and forensic capabilities, including a traceable dye that police can use to identify a criminal for up to five years after an attack. We are also sharing intelligence and collaborating with the local police to bring these criminals to justice.”
Crime fighting charity Crimestoppers are also supporting this cause by providing banners and giving out leaflets to inform people on how to prevent crime and where to report it if it happens.
“I did get my money back but the experience did shake me up a bit”
A Leeds Beckett student who fell victim to late last year to ATM theft in Leeds, said “I was out one night and quite drunk, I left my friends and ended up meeting some guys that I went to an ATM with. When I got back home, I noticed my card had gone. I checked my account and found that all my money had gone.
“After calling the bank, they told me that due to my pin being used to draw the money out, there was nothing they could do. This resulted in me calling the police who gave me a crime reference number to use. I did get my money back but the experience did shake me up a bit, making me scared to go out for a while in case something similar happened again.”
Suspicious behaviour around cash points should always be reported to the police. This includes:
– people acting in a dubious way around an ATM – or driving past slowly.
– transit-type vehicles parked across the road, especially in the early hours of the morning.
– roof tiles missing from above ATMs.
-any suspicious movement of ATMs
-or making sure that CCTV technology is in working condition.