Thieves cash in on lax security at ATMs

Money stolen is indemnified by insurance firms

Thieves cash in on lax security at ATMs

 There appears to be little attitudinal change on the part of the banking industry in enhancing security at the automated teller machine (ATM) kiosks despite the City witnessing 11 instances of ATM theft in the last three years.

According to Ramesh S, an IT security expert, over 90 per cent of the ATMs in the City are insecure. “There is neither manned security nor access barriers. No one monitors the security camera. The drawees are at risk, especially in the wee hours,” he said.

Providing a security guard or upgrading security features at ATMs not only ensures safety of the cash, but also that of the drawees.

In 2010, a person was killed by his friends after he drew Rs 41,000 from an ATM at Yeshwantpur. A police officer said the crime could have been averted if a security guard was posted at the kiosk.

According to the numbers available with the police, a sum of Rs 1.91 crore has been stolen from ATMs since 2010. Besides, cash of Rs 1.2 crore meant for ATMs being transported in vans has been robbed by miscreants after assaulting security guards.

While the use of industrial devices like gas cutter is common in the thefts at ATMs, in two instances the thieves made away with the machine itself. This month, a gang tugged away the machine in Bagalur. The ATM had Rs 24 lakh in cash.

“The involvement of an insider in such cases cannot be ruled out, given the clinical precision with which the offence is committed,” Additional Commissioner for Police (Law and Order) Kamal Pant said.

An official of the Reserve Bank of India, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the bank has issued guidelines to banks on security at ATMs.

“However, the banks are treating the norms as mere advisories. Since the cash stolen from ATMs is indemnified by insurance companies, the banks are secured from loss. Hence, security at ATMs is taken for granted,” the officer said.

Following an ATM heist this month, City Police Commissioner B G Jyothiprakash Mirji issued circulars to public and private sector banks to step up security at ATMs.

“Deputing security guards and installing cameras in a scientific and inaccessible manner are the best ways to deter criminals. We can only issue advisories, whereas the RBI can insist banks enhance the security,” Mirji said.

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