ATM Robbery - Slice Through A Bank ATM Like Butter
It is Safe to Say That No Safe-Cracking Method is Safe
To rob a bank, you can use several methods, including armed robbery, ATM (Automated Teller Machine) card fraud or safe cracking. The most easily defended against is safe cracking, since years ago banks learned how to make their safes virtually impenetrable. Although there have been isolated instances of entire bank cash machines being wrenched off their moorings and fork-lifted into waiting trucks, adequate crash bars and other impediments make that a rare occurrence. In India, thieves spent time with a cutting torch, eventually separating an entire ATM machine from its base. If the machine was visible to the public, as most are, how could such a chore go unnoticed?
Other than the relatively insecure bank teller lines, with the limited cash that they carry, the easiest way to rob a bank of some “serious cash” is ATM robbery, or breaking into the back of an ATM machine. Unlike vaults, which have many inches of steel and concrete armor, most ATMs rely on relatively thin steel plate to secure many thousands of dollars that are preloaded into handy cassettes.
Enter the dragon. In this case, the dragon is the compact, portable and self-contained MAG9000 oxygen-fueled cutting torch manufactured by Magnum Manufacturing. According to their website, Magnum Manufacturing’s “central headquarters are located in Southern California”.
Magnum touts their system with only three words: “Speed, Power and Versatility. Consider piercing four inches of steel in four seconds. Consider removing one linear foot of weldment in eight seconds. Consider the ability to burn through any material, even cast iron, stainless steel, copper, manganese and more. Incredible performance and yet; safe and reliable in the most challenging field conditions. Our new battery ignition system eliminates cables for ultimate portability and convenience.”
A recent article in Wired Magazine described the MAG9000 as the appropriate tool for “Melting through doors, walls or concrete bunkers”. Wired went on to say, “Pull the trigger and pure oxygen flows from the tank into a barrel at the cutter's business end. Add a spark and soft steel rods inside the barrel burn in the presence of the 02. Once lit, the torch can slice through metal plate in a few seconds,
In “the old days”, banks were located in freestanding buildings that often resembled fortresses. Brick and mortar gave customers a feeling of security and permanence. In recent years, many banks have opted for less expensive and less secure strip-center locations. Their inherent weakness is that these newer branches share common walls and a common attic space with their neighbors.
Although it rarely hits the news, I have it on good authority that strip-center bank robbers have recently utilized the late night breaking and entering technique. Once inside the small ATM backrooms, the robbers disable the security cameras and defeat the alarm systems, if possible. Then, with the relative security of their hiding place, the robbers quickly use a “torch” to cut into the back of the ATM, unload the cash-cassettes and escape the same way they came in.
Until this rash of “cutting torch robberies” makes more news, the low risk and potentially high return will make them ever more prevalent. It is simply too embarrassing for any particular bank to admit that they were dumb enough to allow such easy access to their depositors’ money.
Appropriate actions to prevent ATM bank robbery include:
- Armor plating of all ATM rooms that share walls with neighboring businesses.
- The addition of smoke alarms and high-decibel horn alarms to the ATM rooms, thus making a break-in immediately obvious to the bank’s security department and painful to the robber's ears.
- Adding an additional layer of protective armor to the ATM’s, themselves.
- Requiring that the purchaser of any high technology cutting torch (e.g., The MAG9000) register their new torch as they would if they were purchasing explosives or a handgun.
Would the purchase registration of all high technology cutting torches be an abridgement of our freedoms? No, it would only be the abridgement of freedom to those who rob banks and other cash-intensive businesses.