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ATM Thefts Diversify to Include Skimming, Blowtorches and Explosives

More Electronic Security Applied to ATMs

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With the continued increase in the number of ATMs in bars, restaurants, on the street, in addition to banks, security executives at financial institutions and law enforcement face increased threats. For example, the suspected ringleaders of a network that allegedly burglarized ATMs in six Massachusetts counties, stealing more than $340,000 in cash, were arrested and arraigned March 21. Authorities said suspects used stolen sport utility vehicles, blowtorches, and lookouts, and snapped wires to surveillance and alarm systems as part of their scheme targeting cash machines in Dracut, Framingham, and other communities in 2007 and 2008. The ring also stole items from businesses and apparently made plans to expand their criminal activities into other cities and towns. Indictments were issued last week against 16 people, and March 21 authorities arrested four of them. They face charges ranging from breaking and entering to larceny. The FBI worked in conjunction with state police and local law enforcement officials on an investigation that began in April 2007. A major break came when a confidential source divulged information about the rings activities, officials said. Court records detail the incidents, suggesting the burglaries were well planned, well timed, and involved familiarity with the locations. Then, in South Carolina, a person tried to open ATM with explosives. Richland County deputies are asking for help identifying someone who tried to break into an ATM on Farrow Road in Columbia, South Carolina. The county sheriff said the attempt happened at the Carolina First Bank. Deputies responding to an alarm noticed that someone had used an explosive device and/or a cutting torch on the ATM, but failed to gain entry into the safe. The sheriff said surveillance cameras at the bank captured images of the suspect. Skimming, often engineered by organized crime gangs, is yet another way ATMs are under attack. A device is attached to the ATM at the point of card entry. Sometimes a small camera is also positioned behind the ATM user to capture the PIN. The skimming device captures the card information.