Previous Page  12 / 28 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 12 / 28 Next Page
Page Background

l e a d i n g

a d v o c a t e

f o r

t h e

b a n k i n g

i n d u s t r y

i n

k a n s a s




By Charles M. Towle, KBS President

Kansas Bankers Surety, Topeka, Kansas




reported to the bank that the drive-up

ATM was not working. The bank checked

the ATM, which displayed an error code

indicating the ATM was out of money. A look

inside revealed that it was indeed out of money. In fact, the

dispensing canisters were missing from the safe as well as the

cash they contained.

The investigation revealed no signs of tampering, neither on

the access panel lock nor on the safe combination dial. The

canisters and money had just disappeared.

A review of the video camera provided a partial explanation.

The ATM records showed that the last successful transaction

had occurred at 1:10 a.m. At 1:23 a.m., a car could be seen

parking and turning its lights off across the parking lot. A

shadowy image of a person could be seen leaving the car and

moving out of view of the camera. The person approached

the machine from the side, and only his sweatshirt from below

the shoulders to his waist could be seen on the video. Within

a few seconds, the access panel was opened. Thirty seconds

later, the safe door could be seen opening. Within a few more

seconds, all three money canisters were removed, the safe was

closed and the access panel was closed. The theft took about

one minute.

Only two bank employees had access to the safe combination.

The investigation revealed that they could not have taken the


The ATM manufacturer was called to investigate the matter.

Their investigator explained that the alarm was not designed to

be triggered on this style of ATM when the access panel was

opened. No alarm is triggered if the normal combination is

used to open the safe. It was learned that the manufacturer did

not make access panel keys and locks unique. In fact, many

ATMs of the same model open with the same key.

The manufacturer told the bank that this was the twenty-second

similar incident reported to them in five years.

It is improbable that 22 different bank employees working for

22 different banks decided to steal using the same method.

The manufacturer came up with a theory: one of the thousands

of people with a key to the access panel lock may have

perpetrated the crime. Of course, no one had access to the 22

different ATM safe combinations. Bank personnel were the

only ones with the combination for each bank’s ATM safe.

Several videos showed the safes were opened in only seconds,

making it impossible for someone to be trying different

combination codes. The manufacturer speculated that if the

combination lock was not locked properly, the crook could

quickly open the safe and remove the canisters of cash.

A test of this hypothesis revealed that the combination turned

slightly as the safe was closed and that the safe appeared

locked. However, a slight turn of the dial allowed the safe to

be reopened without using the combination.

A crook likely continues to look in ATMs for safes that are

not properly locked. Looking in an ATM does not set off

alarms. There are no signs of forced entry. If the crook looks

in an ATM that was locked correctly, he simply relocks the

access panel and leaves no trace of his intrusion. If the crook

looks in enough ATMs, he eventually finds an ATM that has

a combination dial that was not properly spun when the ATM

was locked. He then steals the cash canisters in seconds.

To prevent this type of theft from happening at your bank, you

can change your alarm system so that your employees must

enter a deactivation code before opening the ATM access panel

and/or safe. You can also install a new lock with a unique key

on the ATM access panel.

Of utmost importance, every bank

should train all of its employees to turn the combination

dial at least one full turn after locking the ATM safe.

Proper locking of the ATM safe can help prevent this type of

loss at your bank.

For more information, please give us a call at (785) 228-0000.