ATM thefts: Banks yet to learn lessons on security
Despite a string of ATM (automated teller machine) thefts and related crimes, banks do not seem to have learnt lessons on security.
Numerous instances of burglars damaging money-vending machines and decamping with cash have been reported in the City. In a few instances, burglars have carted away an entire machine.
Most of the thefts have occurred at unguarded ATM kiosks located in secluded places without proper police patrolling.
A security guard at an ATM belonging to Bank of India in Hoysala Nagar said, “We are not given any equipment to protect ourselves, or the machine. When we are attacked, there is no one to help us immediately.”
“Moreover, it is difficult for us to safeguard ATMs in secluded areas, not only at night but also during day. It is an easy target for robbers to attack guards and ATMs in areas where there is not much movement of people or vehicles,” he said.
Some of the ATMs also serve as night shelters. According to a police officer at Byappanhalli, people residing in nearby slums convert ATM rooms into bedrooms at night. The air-conditioner makes it cosier. “We have a tough time chasing away these people who sleep in ATMs,” the officer said.
People who withdraw cash from ATMs during night are at great risk. Sree Ganesh, who was attacked while withdrawing cash from an ATM on Marathahalli Ring Road, said, “When I was attacked by a few people after withdrawing cash from the ATM at night, there was no sight of the security guard. A few days later, I discovered the guard was also part of the gang that attacked me.”
Most of the ATMs have security guards appointed by banks. Only a few banks can afford to appoint ex-servicemen as guards because only they have the licence to carry a gun. But other banks give contract to private security agencies. “A majority of the guards are not trained or equipped,” said a bank manager.
Requesting anonymity, he said most of the banks were not bothered to deploy a guard because they can always claim the robbed money through insurance.
Moreover, appointing a proper security guard has not been made mandatory by any authority concerned. The CCTVs are under repair most of the time. Many small private banks do not have security guards at all, which makes things easy for robbers. A recent instance was a heist at a gold bank in Rajarajeshwari Nagar.
Sushil Kumar, a manager at a private security firm, said, “People do not want to employ security guards who are well-trained and equipped because it would cost them huge money. So, they go for guards who are not trained. Bank managements appointing their own guards is quite risky, because, more often than not, they turn out to be part of the burglary gangs.”