This year was certainly filled with challenges for the ATM industry due to the pandemic and much of the talk in the industry was surrounding how the coronavirus spurred on customer migration to contactless or digital devices.
Yes, we can blame the pandemic for the digital migration of customers, but we as an industry have to also realize we have another serious challenge going that could affect financial institutions, vendors, retailers and IADs: theft.
For almost the entire year I have been editor of this publication, the news sources we work with have reported on several ATM thefts happening daily across the country. The strange thing is not that there’s solely theft at the ATMs, but there’s been theft of the ATM continually reported.
I have included a few instances just from today to give an idea of how widespread this issue is.
For instance, in San Antonio, News4SA ran a report on how two men used a stolen truck around 5 am and came up to a Chase standalone ATM, hooked a chain around the machine and attempted to pull the ATM open. When that didn’t work, they tried ramming the machine. After several attempts, the thieves left the area as well as a severely damaged but unopened ATM that still sported a chain around it.
A Citizen Bank’s ATM in South Carolina was so severely vandalized over the weekend that bank officials were forced to remove it and redirect customers to use ATMs at nearby branches according to a report on ABC 15 news.
In Chicago, a man was arrested and taken in for a mental health evaluation after he was found over the weekend trying to open an ATM with a brick, according to a report by CBS2 Chicago.
In Georgia, 13WMAZ reported that a Regions bank ATM was severely vandalized and an undisclosed amount was stolen. In addition, a flatbed pickup truck was stolen, but later located behind the bank in an apartment complex with a large chain hanging from the back. Police believe it was used in the vandalism.
The stories go on and on and the thieves use everything from hammers, to saws to explosives to try and grab the cash.
In some cases, there is a pattern, in other burglaries the thefts are random; the suspects have been single individuals to formalized groups; premeditated and spontaneous, but however these events occur, we as an industry need to recognize this is an issue that affects all areas of the industry from banks and financial institutions to vendors, retailers, operators and IADs.
What can be done to lessen these thefts? Are there ways to protect standalone ATMs, a way to transform branches to include ATMs but also protect the customer and the hardware? Is there a software that can alert the police that the machine is being tampered with, or new CCTV cameras that can alert a financial institution when someone is attempting to vandalize the ATM? Is there a way to place an ATM in a retail establishment that is convenient to the customer but doesn’t present itself as an opportunity for theft?
These are questions we need to consider as we head into a new year. How can we protect the very thing this publication and this industry revolve around: the ATM? How can we work together to find viable solutions that meet the needs of all areas and protect customers, staff and the bottom line.
If you have ideas or thoughts you want to share, please drop me a line by clicking on the social media links or email at Editor@ATMmarketplace.com
I believe this year will be a year of innovative ideas and solutions. I look forward to hearing yours.
Be safe and have a happy New Year.