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RCMP promotes ATM security in businesses

Alberta RCMP is encouraging business owners to keep ATM security top of mind this month.

Alberta RCMP is encouraging business owners to keep ATM security top of mind this month.

While there has not been a recent spike in ATM theft, Jennifer Kee, crime reduction co-ordinator with Alberta RCMP, said it’s a continual focus for police officers.

“It has been problematic and we want to be able to provide as much information to businesses in terms of placement of ATMs, ways to safeguard ATMs and what to do if you’re in the store and there’s suspicious activity around the ATM,” Kee said.

According to statistics from Alberta RCMP, there were nearly 40 ATM thefts and more than 40 ATM theft attempts in the province in 2019. September 2019 saw six ATM thefts as well as six attempted thefts.

ATM placement within a store is important to prevent theft from occurring, Kee said. Putting a machine at the back of the business is not ideal as it can be hidden from the view of employees, but putting it near the front of the store creates other risks.

“If you have a store which has a window front, we’re asking you to not put your ATM right by the front of the store,” she said. “That is encouraging the behaviour of ramming the front of the store, hooking up the ATM and driving it through.

“You want to put it somewhere that’s easily accessible to the public, but also in sight of the employees so they can see what’s going on around the ATM.”

RCMP’s other tips to prevent ATM theft, according to Kee, are to secure the machine to either the floor or the wall. Installing bollards – short, sturdy vertical posts – in front of the business can also prevent vehicles from ramming the building. Having appropriate signage around the ATM stating that it is being monitored by video surveillance is also a good idea.

Fastening the ATM is an effective deterrent for thieves, she added, as it increases the amount of time it takes to steal the machines and provides police more time to respond.

“Everything is about time – usually with these thefts, they want to do it quickly and have it done easily,” she said.

Kee said business owners should make sure their cash machine comes with a GPS tracking device and to familiarize themselves with the system. If a business owner is not sure whether or not their ATM has such a device, she recommended contacting the company that provided the machine.

ATMs should also come with a tamper alarm system, she added, which will sound if someone tries to pry the machine open or move it from its location.

According to Kee, Alberta RCMP regularly provides residential and business safety tips on social media. To keep up to date with business safety tips, she said to follow RCMP in Alberta on Facebook and @RCMPAlberta on Twitter.

“We’ll always be providing tips and we keep those tips up so you can refer back to them,” she said, adding RCMP will be using the hashtag #SaferBusiness throughout September to provide more information about how to keep businesses and ATMs safe.

Kee said to contact your local RCMP detachment if you have specific questions about crime prevention or security for your business.

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19

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