Our chapter in “CopTalk” regarding ATM robberies can give you some valuable insight on how to keep your day from being wrecked. In some cases, it can prevent you from being hurt and yes, even killed while using the ATM to withdraw your hard-earned money.

We all do it several times a week. Some of us even do it more than once a day. We all make that convenient trip to the ATM machine to withdraw something that other’s want also.


What thousands of ATM users have already discovered, is that when you walk up that path to your mechanical money-dispensing friend you are entering a danger-zone that can change your life. In many cases, that act has taken a life.

An ATM robbery is a crime of opportunity. It is RARE that a suspect will come up behind you and stick a gun in your back while other people are around. Although they can and do happen during daylight hours, most ATM robberies take place at night. They most ALWAYS happen when you’re alone!

Some suspects look at this as a crime of opportunity. They are desperate for cash and you are giving them an extremely EASY way to score a quick $300.00.

Increasing in numbers, this crime has become a crime of “Sport”. Gang Bangers gain “Status” by pulling off these crimes, and their biggest thrill is gotten from terrorizing you, while at the same time getting your money and possibly your car that you more than often than not left unlocked and running right in front of you.

Our chapter in our book goes into much more detail but the point here is that ATM robberies are a crime of opportunity. Every action has a reaction. Take away the opportunity and guess what? You lower the odds of ever having to go through this nightmare.

Here are a few tips to consider taken from the chapter in “CopTalk”.

• Refrain from using the ATM at night. You’re much safer during hours of daylight.

• Never use the ATM machine if you’re alone and no one else is around.

• Many banks offer telephonic services for checking balances and making transfers. Use this service!

• Persons loitering around an ATM machine? That’s a warning sign! Maybe they are waiting for a ride. Maybe they aren’t. It’s better to be sure.

• Don’t count your money at the ATM. Chances are someone is watching you.

• Almost EVERY large chain supermarket now has Lobby or ATM banking inside. A well-lit environment, employee’s present, and usually many other customers present, is a strong deterrent against these robberies. This is much safer than using an ATM but you must still continue to be cautious, and alert, when going to your car.

The photo at the top of this page depicts what each of us has done at one time or another. Some of us do it on a regular basis. We pull into a parking stall, jump out of the car, and plan a quick in and out transaction at the ATM machine.

This guy leaves his car running with the door wide open. He isn’t thinking about the fact that someone could be watching him, or that someone could jump in his truck and is gone in less than 3 seconds.

What isn’t shown in the photo is the dark alleyway leading to the side of the shopping center complex. Did he check to see if anyone was loitering back there? Does he anticipate someone could be watching him with a different financial agenda than his own? Nope! This guy never looked at me once, which reminded me of a quick story.

Back in 1985 I first got sworn in with the sheriff’s office. I was walking a downtown beat at 6am checking doors at businesses. I saw a guy in a paramedic uniform standing alone at an ATM machine at the bank on a corner. I recognized the guy as being one of my old partners from my ambulance days. He never saw me coming.

I snuck up behind him, jammed my finger in his back, and said in a low forceful voice, “Give me all the money or you’re dead!” He froze! I could almost see the breath go out of him as he anticipated the worst in happening.

I saw that he wasn’t taking it as a joke, and slapped him on the back and said “Scott, it’s me Jim”. I don’t know if he was more relieved to see a cop in uniform there, or a familiar face that he knew, but I’ll never forget his face being pale white in color.

Scott didn’t have a lot to say and I’m thinking he didn’t find my “joke” very funny. I didn’t see Scott for a couple of years, and the first thing he reminded me of when I did see him, was how I had scared the hell out of him that morning. He told me he has never put himself in that position again ever since then!

In writing CopTalk, it made me think of a “what if?”
What if a “Dad” was taking his 4-year-old son out fishing for the first time? They get up early, cook breakfast, load up the car, and head out for the river. Boy, this would be a day to remember forever!

But wait, Dad needs to stop at the ATM machine to get some cash for the big adventure. Dad parks in front of the bank, leaves the jeep Cherokee running, and waits patiently in front of the window for his $200.00. It’s 6am again, and Dad didn’t think anyone would be around.

As Dad counts his money he starts to turn around and feels an object come crashing down on his head. Dad falls down to the ground in a daze and with blurred vision he sees the silhouette of someone scooping up the twenty dollar bills that were scattered on the ground.

Dad strains to open his eyes and all he can see is his Cherokee driving off with his son still inside. I’m thinking this day will be just as Dad had planned. A day to remember forever! When he says the big one got away, he can mean it!

Put yourself in this scenario and tell me what you would do. I’ll tell you. You’d be terrorized! Put yourself in Scott’s position and tell me what you’ll do when someone jabs a gun instead of a finger in your back and says in a low deep voice, “Give me all the money or you’re dead!”

Every action has a reaction. Take away the opportunity and you’ll lower the chances of this crime from happening. Think you can do something different? We do!

Hey, let’s lighten the tone here…..Anyone wanna go fishing? JL


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here