Japanese ATM thieves favor construction equipment for heists

Dec. 29, 2002

OTSU, Japan -- An ATM filled with some 8.7 million yen in cash (about $73,343 U.S.) was stolen but recovered early on Dec. 29 in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture, according to a report in the Japan Times.

A security company reported to police around 4:20 a.m. that the machine, belonging to the Moriyama-Kita branch of Shiga Bank had been stolen. When police officers got to the site at about 4:30 a.m., they found the ATM enclosure destroyed and the machine missing. A power shovel believed to have been used in the theft had been left at the location.

The ATM, still filled with the cash, was found on a nearby river bank with a truck believed to have carried the machine. Police said the burglars apparently abandoned the ATM when they were unable to get the cash out of it.

The power shovel and truck had been stolen in Moriyama, police said.

In a similar incident on Dec. 22., an ATM containing around 23 million yen in cash (about $193,976 U.S.) was stolen in Samukawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. The machine, belonging to the Chigasaki branch of Chuo LaborBank, was located in the parking lot of the Samukawa town office.

A guard who went to the site at about 3:30 a.m. after an alarm was set off found the ATM gone, and a power shovel and truck at the scene. That ATM, which had been replenished with cash ahead of the three-day weekend, has not been recovered.

According to the Japan Times, ATMs in Kanagawa Prefecture have been favorite targets of thieves.

Japan's National Police Agency (NPA) met with several organizations on Dec. 25, including the Japanese Bankers Association and the Japan Vendor Machine Manufacturers Association, to discuss new safety protocols for ATMs.

The meeting was prompted because of the growing practice of thieves using power shovels and other construction equipment to steal ATMs, according to a report in The Daily Yomiuri. As of Dec. 24, 54 ATMs had been ripped out of enclosures using construction equipment, causing 326 million yen (U.S. $2.7 million) in damage.

(See related story Japan reviewing security in wake of ATM thefts)

The NPA also asked construction firms and others who own or operate heavy machinery to keep watch to prevent such equipment from being stolen for use in ATM thefts, according to a report in the Kyodo News.

According to the NPA, the number of ATM heists using construction equipment soared to 49 in the first 11 months of 2002, compared with six in the same period of 2001.

The NPA requested 15 industry organizations, including the Associated General Constructors of Japan, to step up watch on machinery at construction sites and to equip their machinery with immobilizing devices to prevent machinery thefts, as well as global positioning system devices to help locate stolen equipment.

(See related story Japanese police enlist construction firms for help in preventing ATM thefts)

Topics: Security

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