Friday, January 8, 2010

Police Investigating ATM Robberies

From HoCo PD:

Howard County police are investigating several recent robberies at automatic teller machines and remind residents to use caution to prevent becoming a victim.

Since October, police have responded to five incidents where suspects approached victims as they made transactions at both walk-up and drive-through ATMs. The cases do not appear to be related.

In the most recent case, a victim was approached on Tuesday at approximately 4:50 p.m. at the Bank of America ATM in the 8600 block of Guilford Road in Columbia. The suspect opened the victim’s passenger door at a drive-through ATM, sat down, displayed a gun and demanded cash. The victim complied, and the suspect fled on foot.

To ensure personal safety and security, police suggest citizens follow the following 10 tips.

1. Choose an ATM that is well-lit and free of shrubbery, signs or other items that obstruct your view. When possible, use ATMs during daylight hours. If you must use an ATM at night, avoid approaching an occupied ATM. Wait for the other person to leave the area. If possible, bring a friend if you must use an ATM at night.

2. Prepare transaction paperwork ahead of time. Have your ATM card and other necessary paperwork accessible to reduce transaction time so you do not have to fumble in your purse or wallet.

3. Be aware of your surroundings. Scan the area for suspicious people or vehicles. At night, circle the area once in your car to check the area. If you do not feel comfortable, return at another time.

4. Stay alert during your transaction. Avoid distractions, such as talking on the phone or listening to music.

5. When entering your PIN, shield the keypad from the view of others who may be watching.

6. If you withdrawal cash, remove it immediately. Do not count cash in plain sight.

7. Obtain a receipt for your transaction, and keep it in a safe location. Do not leave it at the ATM or throw it in the trash at the ATM.

8. If you are using a drive-through ATM, lock your car doors, and make sure your passenger and rear windows are up.

9. If you are confronted by a robber demanding cash or valuables, comply. No amount of money is worth risking your life.

10. If someone follows you after your transaction, walk to a well-lit, crowded area. If you are in a vehicle, drive to a police station.

Citizens are reminded to immediately report suspicious activity, robbery or fraud to police by calling 911.

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