ATM robbers may be waiting at your Automated Teller Machine.
- ATM cash withdrawal after-hours is high-risk if alone and female.
- Learn how ATM robbers think and view you as a potential victim.
- Think about times and locations where your ATM use was risky.
- Have a family meeting to discuss plans for late-night ATM use.
Podcast Time Stamps:
[1:10] – ATM robbers want the element of surprise.
[1:48] – Some ATM locations are better for robbers.
[2:40] – My ATM is your ATM.
[3:28] – Robbers don’t like ATM machines in supermarkets.
[4:10] – Robbers prefer to confront a single ATM victim.
[4:45] – Robbers expect ATM victims to cooperate.
[5:20] – Robbers hate attentive ATM customers.
[5:58] – Robbers will use excessive force if you resist.
[6:25] – Video surveillance cameras not a big concern to ATM robbers.
[7:05] – Good lighting doesn’t matter that much to ATM robbers.
ATM Robbers Don’t Want You to Know
1. ATM robbers want the element of surprise
ATM robbers are usually male, under 25 years old. They look a little scruffy because they are likely intoxicated on alcohol or drugs. If you look around, the ATM robber is that suspicious-looking guy within 25 yards standing in the shadows or sitting in a car. ATM robbers usually work alone, but sometimes use a partner for a lookout or getaway driver.
2. Some ATM locations are better for robbers
ATM robbers prefer isolated machines with poor line-of-sight from the street or parking lot. They like to hide nearby behind some obstruction until the right moment.
Robbers also like the bank drive-thru-lane machine because they can sneak up on your open car window while you focus on punching in your ATM code number. They know you can’t run while buckled into your car seat.
ATM robbers have the advantage because they pick the best time, the location with the best hiding places and escape routes.
3. My ATM is your ATM
Once robbers stake out your machine, they don’t have to do anything, but hang around nearby, watch, and wait. ATM robbers strike between 8:00 pm – 4:00 am when ATM traffic is slowest.
Robbers don’t have a bank account or a bank ATM card, so when they need quick cash they’ll use yours. They hope you withdraw $300 but will settle for less. They may also demand your phone, wallet, purse, watch, or jewelry.
Occasionally, robbers will steal your car too and may take you with them to another crime scene.
4. Robbers don’t like ATM machines in supermarkets
Robbers can’t see the machine from the parking lot or know when someone approaches it. There are cashiers, video surveillance, and too many witnesses. Large stores may have security watching.
Robbers lose the element of surprise if they enter the store with their face covered or gun out. They don’t have a view of the parking lot from inside to know if the police are waiting outside.
5. Robbers prefer to rob a single ATM victim
Robbers prefer to rob a woman that arrives alone at an ATM machine. They prefer that you don’t pay attention to your surroundings or talk on your phone at the ATM.
Sometimes they pretend to use an adjacent ATM machine so you’ll think they’re okay. Attempting to rob two or more people increases their risk or likelihood of resistance.
6. Robbers expect ATM victims to act a certain way
Robbers wait for you to approach the machine oblivious to your surroundings. They’ll wait for you to focus all your attention on the ATM machine, insert your ATM card, enter your PIN code, and request cash. They will suddenly and silently appear behind you armed with a weapon just as your cash dispenses.
They will threaten to hurt you if you don’t follow my commands and hand over your cash and other property without resistance.
7. ATM robbers least favorite customer
ATM user that arrives by car with one or more passengers. The driver stays inside with the motor running and headlights aimed at the ATM.
Before approaching the machine, the ATM user carefully scans the area looking for me and usually spots me. These people quickly leave the area without using the ATM.
The robbers’ greatest fear is that you called the police to report their presence.
8. ATM robbers will use excessive force if you resist
Robbers intend to take your cash and other property by use of force. They come prepared with a gun or knife to persuade you. They are desperate for cash and will threaten you with a weapon at first contact.
Robbers don’t care if they hurt you. If you resist or try to fight they will use an excessive amount of force without hesitation.
9. Video surveillance cameras are not a big concern to ATM robbers
Despite what the news says about ATM Security Tips, most bank ATM machines have video surveillance cameras these days. A passive video camera will not physically prevent robbers from attacking you. They desperately need money so they will risk being recorded on video.
Robbers try to avoid the video camera view and wear a hat, a mask, bandanna, sunglasses, or hoodie to disguise my image.
10. Good ATM lighting doesn’t matter that much to robbers
Despite what you’ve read on police websites, most bank ATM machines have good lighting these days. Good lighting doesn’t matter if you’re not watching out for robbers.
As long the ATM machine is not busy and robbers have some cover from the street, they will still approach from your blind-side and you’ll never see them coming.
- The photo above is a snippet from actual video footage from a Wells Fargo Bank drive-thru ATM robbery. – [8:15]
- The robber forced the female victim into the trunk of her own car and drove it away.
- Fortunately, the robber soon abandoned her car. She was unharmed locked in the trunk overnight.
- This ATM drive-thru robbery and kidnapping scenario were terrifying for the victim and her family.
Footnote: – [7:38]
- This information was gathered from actual interviews with robbers and ATM victims.
Learn More about Premises Liability Litigation
Download the book written by Crime School host Chris McGoey.
- Security Expert’s Guide to Premises Liability Litigation.
- Evaluating Crime Foreseeability and Inadequate Security Cases.