Tips & Tricks to Improving Security at Your ATM

Criminals are always looking for the easiest ways to make a profit. And ATMs have always been a prime target because they dispense what bad actors want most – cash.


As crime in the US has increased over the last few years so have ATM attacks and thefts. Between 2019 and 2020, ATM incidents increased by 220 percent. To address these alarming statistics both Missouri and Kansas have recently increased penalties for ATM vandalism and theft in an effort to combat the problem.


Smash and grab robberies, incidents where criminals ram a vehicle into a retail establishment or an ATM in order to be able to take off with an entire machine have risen over 50 percent. But it is not just smash and grabs increasing in frequency. The US has also seen more incidents involving implementing explosives, common in other parts of the world, being used to break into ATMs. These more sophisticated crimes can result in more damage including fire to the surrounding retail or banking establishment.

Fortunately, there are ways to help deter bad actors. Here are three easy and inexpensive ways to keep your ATM secure and prevent criminals from targeting them.


Choosing the Safest Location

One of the simplest ways to protect an ATM is to place it in an area that makes it more difficult to attack. Part of this strategy is keeping the machine away from structural vulnerabilities. Things like windows, vestibules and exits all provide opportunities for access to the machine.


ATMs at convenience stores, coffee shops and restaurants may find it safer to place machines near the register. Grocery store and pharmacy locations may find it prudent to place ATMs close to the customer service or pharmaceutical counter. Any footprint that puts the machine within your staff’s line-of-site and keeps it away from outside access points is ideal when addressing safety concerns.


Adding Barriers

Using a vehicle to destroy property for the purpose of getting to the ATM or the cash inside is a common method of attack. Called “smash-and-grabs,” this method of attack is simple. Bad actors use a truck, van or even stolen construction equipment to smash windows to get to the ATM, in order to create enough damage to the machine to make easy to cart away.


Retail locations can reduce access by installing bollard systems. Placed around a storefront, these concrete posts create a physical barrier that is easy for consumers to navigate but effectively makes it more difficult for vehicles to smash windows and gain access to the ATM. Commonly installed around drive-up bank ATMs, they can also be used to protect retail storefronts from accidents as well.


Reduce the Rewards

Another option to help prevent ATM theft is to manage cash availability within the machine. Criminals who attack ATMs typically surveille their target location to give them an idea of the potential “take” to be gained from an attack. Limiting how much cash is in the machine by filling it more often and having decals on the machine saying “no money is kept in the machine overnight” may lowering the risk if criminals know their efforts will result in minimal rewards.


While criminals are always looking for easy ways to make a quick buck, taking these three easy precautions can help you manage the risks and improve the security of your ATM.


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