You know the economy is bad when thieves decide stealing money from an ATM isn’t good enough and instead choose to steal the entire machine.
NPR reports that the number of ATMs stolen has increased significantly during the recession. “Four years ago, there were roughly 120 such thefts in the entire country. Two years ago, Texas alone exceeded that number,” they write. California cities like Oakland and San Diego have seen multiple ATMs stolen in a month’s time, and other states are suffering similarly. One man in Sioux Falls, South Dakota was charged with stealing six ATMs.
So how exactly do you go about stealing an ATM? “The methods ATM thieves use are not subtle,” NPR reports. “They may physically batter a bank island with a stolen truck, or drive through a convenience store window, then lasso the ATM with a chain and yank it away. Often they will have stolen a second vehicle or forklift with which to cart the machine away. The getaway car often turns up later, burned.” Or you could just walk into a hospital, grab a machine and wait calmly for the elevator, as two thieves did in Philadelphia.
This trend has also yielded one interesting fact. Apparently the average ATM holds about 2,000 bills, which can total up to $200,000. That kind of makes you wonder why robbers have been sticking up banks all these years. In fact, NPR notes that the legal ramifications of stealing ATMs are much less severe than robbing a bank. “Sticking up a teller might lead to federal charges, but breaking into an ATM is generally considered simple theft.”
On the bright side, if a robber is lugging an ATM, they probably won’t have much energy to steal your wallet. But if you are a small business owner, we suggest you keep the ATM as far away from the front door as possible.