5 steps to ATM smash-and-grab prevention
Unfortunately, ATM "smash-and-grab" incidents continue to occur all too often. These crimes, which involve damaging or removing an ATM in order to access its vault, cost the industry millions of dollars in losses annually.
In nearly all reported cases, the criminals use a stolen vehicle and wear disguises. The perpetrators are rarely caught in the act, and once the vehicle is ditched, there is not much hope of apprehending them.
Despite these discouraging facts, there are steps retailers and financial institutions can take to decrease their vulnerability to ATM smash-and-grab incidents. As often is the case, spending a bit more money up front can mean savings in the form of prevented losses in the future.
Below are a few security suggestions for protecting an ATM from smash-and-grab crimes:
Alarms and sirens — There are a number of inexpensive alarm systems on the market that are triggered when an ATM is moved off its base. These alarms are also equipped with sensors that can identify the extreme heat from a metal-cutting torch, or if a vault is opened without authorization. These systems can be tied to existing alarm systems and can even send alerts when an ATM is being compromised.
Bollards — These simple posts create a physical barrier around the ATM. Bollards are designed to withstand high levels of impact and can prevent damage to a locations' front entrance. Bollards have been used for years and can effectively deter criminals from attempting to smash a vehicle into an ATM.
Secure ATM body armor — ATM body armor is designed to serve as a protective steel panel, covering the exterior of the ATM. The armor makes the ATM heavier, bulkier, and more difficult to remove. Criminals are deterred by the amount of time it would likely take to compromise such a heavily armored ATM.
Surveillance — Digital cameras have become much more affordable in recent years. Most ATM models currently on the market come with a camera window, along with capabilities for attaching a small camera in order to monitor ATM use. These cameras typically produce clear pictures that can be handed over to authorities as evidence.
Bolt-down security — Several types of inexpensive bolting devices are currently available for ATMs. These devices are used to prevent the unauthorized removal of the ATM; most are designed to withstand vehicle impact.
There is no doubt that smash-and-grab criminals spend time surveying potential ATMs prior to selecting the most vulnerable target. And these criminals, like most thieves, follow the path of least resistance. Consider the advantages of having additional security measures in place to make your ATM a less attractive target.
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Dan Kramer Dan has an extensive background in merchant portfolio management and electronic funds transfer sales and marketing. He joined SHAZAM in 1999 and currently serves as senior vice president of marketing and merchant services. www