Take steps in protecting and physically securing your bank’s ATMs

Feb, 2016 Categories: ATM P&C Procedures SafeTalk Spotlight

by Dirk Hanket, P&C Product Manager

The physical security of ATMs is taking on increased importance as thieves become more brazen in their attempts to steal cash or, in more cases, the entire machine.

According to a February ABA Newsbytes bulletin issued by the American Bankers Association, Diebold recently issued an alert regarding ATM safecutting attacks:

  • In one attempted burglary, the perps broke into the bank through an outside door and used a high-powered saw to cut through the wall of the ATM service room. They then cut the alarm system wires and attempted to pry open the ATM’s safe door with a crowbar. The attack triggered an alarm and the burglars fled without getting any cash.
  • In another attack, would-be thieves tried to steal money from an ATM by using a high-powered saw to cut the ATM’s beauty door and safe. Although they failed in accessing the ATM’s cash, they caused considerable damage.

The increasing deployment of off-site ATMs in less secure locations has facilitated an increase in thefts and vandalism. Stories of ATMs being dragged out of convenience stores, gas stations and stand-alone locations are common. According to atmmarketplace.com, the phrase “crash and grab” is now used to describe the act of using a vehicle in order to steal a machine, often by driving through a storefront window. The problem has moved from rural locations to urban areas and is not limited to a specific area of the country.

While there are no signs that the trend will slow, there are steps to take to increase the physical security of ATMs. Recommended security measures include:

  • Properly securing the cabinet from forced entry.
  • Securing the ATM to the floor and walls to prevent the machine from being rocked from its foundation.
  • Being tied into a security system.
  • Installing locator devices. There are a number of technologies available, each with its own set of pros and cons. These include devices that rely on GPS (satellite), GSM (cellular) and RF (radio frequency).
  • The use of dye packets in cash boxes.

Contrary to common thought, security experts recommend all security measures should be advertised on exterior signage.

Thieves prefer to take the path of least resistance. If measures are taken to make theft more difficult, they may decide to move on to an easier target.

Regardless of physical location, all ATMs should be checked regularly for suspicious activity, including modifications and/or evidence of vandalism. Additionally, consider the following:

  • Is the ATM located in a well-lit area? Be sure lighting is adequate for the entire perimeter, not just the front of the machine.
  • Is the ATM located in a well-traveled area?
  • Are there police patrols of the area?
  • Are there security cameras that record all activity of the ATM?
  • Are concrete barriers or bollards around the machine to prevent “crash and grab” thefts?

The Commercial Property portion of a P&C package generally responds to ATM theft. ATMs can be covered as either scheduled or unscheduled locations. Scheduled locations are specifically listed in the policy declarations, much like bank branch locations. Unscheduled locations are not specifically listed. The level of insurance coverage is the same, but an unscheduled approach is preferable for ATMs because it eliminates the necessity of scheduling machines that are located off premises.

Additional information on ATM security can be found at the following resources: