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ATM smash & grab attacks

In today’s socially distanced world, criminals increasingly are turning their attention to the money inside automated and interactive teller machines. And their smash-and-grab method of extraction is causing havoc at an alarming rate.
Man holding portfolio looking away

These aggressive attacks where the perpetrators typically use stolen heavy-duty trucks with chains, construction type vehicles, equipment, and even explosives to rip apart the ATM or ITM and gain access to cash canisters. These attacks cause financial loss and property damage in minutes in addition to impacting credit union operations and the communities they serve.

The damage, or in some cases, destruction of these machines can affect operations as it may take weeks and significant financial resources before they can be repaired or replaced. Property and machine damage costs typically range between $50,000 to $100,000.

  • There are several methods to secure stand-alone ATMs to the floor and walls to prevent the machine from being rocked or smashed from its foundation. Machines located on the outermost drive-thru lane or on an island may be the most vulnerable. In addition, you may want to install a mercury switch which detects lifting or tilting of the machine.

  • The vehicles typically used in smash and grab attacks require adequate spacing to execute this crime. The installation of bollards or steel barriers around and across the machines can serve as a deterrent. The more effort and time needed to gain access may discourage the criminals from attacking that machine.

  • Providing a safe and secure environment for members to perform ATM transactions after hours, in addition to minimizing credit union risk, can be a challenge. Review placement of and regularly test surveillance cameras, security mirrors, sight lines, lighting, etc.

  • Some providers have made security enhancements like fortified barriers, door and gate kits, exterior anchor devices, as well as GPS tracking devices available to track compromised currency cassettes. Alarm and sensor upgrades such as high-speed notification to law enforcement or monitoring stations as well as loud audible and strobe flashing light alarms may also be considered.

  • Reevaluate currency replenishment schedules and limit cash amounts. In many cases, it appears the criminals were monitoring the credit union to identify when the attack would be most lucrative. Varying replenishment schedules and limiting currency amounts are highly advisable.

  • Based upon dollar exposure, electronic alarm protection should be provided. All off-premise ATMs should be electronically protected. Install these alarm components on the burglary resistive chest:

    • Door contact, heat sensor & sound detector, vibration sensor, or seismic detector.
    • Low-grade or high-grade line security.
    • Audio alarm (sirens) and strobe lights.
    • At least 48 hours of standby power.
  • The damage, or in some cases, destruction of these ATMs or ITMs can affect operations as it may take weeks and significant financial resources before they can be repaired or replaced. Property and machine damage costs range between $50,000 to $100,000, in addition, it is not as easy to acquire a replacement due to supply chain disruptions and escalating costs.

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Related resources:

Access TruStage’s Protection Resource Center* for exclusive risk and compliance resources to assist with your loss control efforts. The Protection Resource Center requires a User ID and password.
ATM safeguards: risk overview & inspection checklist*
Currency & vault specifications/storage & transportation guidelines*
RISK alert: automated teller machine “smash and grab” attacks on the rise* (7/6/2021)