Thursday, December 4, 2008

Security tip of the day--ATMs

Buz was going to the bank to get some money at an ATM in order to finance his ravenous appetite for pizza. As he was pulling up, your consultant noticed a man get out of his car at the ATM, leaving the engine running with keys in the ignition and the door to his car open as he did a "quick" visit for some money to the machine.

Now, have realize that this was Roland Park, but come on. I've noticed that many people often have a false sense of confidence: It can't happen here; I don't need to worry; it won't happen to me.

This was the same ATM where a young mom was car-jacked at night and driven around the city for several hours several years ago. Fortunately, though terrified, she still had her cellphone while locked in the trunk of her car. Police were able to home in on her cell and found her car in Clifton Park-abandoned by the robber/abductors. And in front of this same bank, a woman's purse was snatched in Broad Daylight (I love that term!) several months ago.

It only takes a few seconds for a dirt-ball to rob you, then jump into your car and you've-provided him with the means to escape or a second car for his group.

Buz's advice:
  • Avoid using ATMs at night. Most are well lit, but you'll stand out like a sore thumb. If you must, use one inside somewhere that doesn't have a window. For example, the one in the 3100 block of St. Paul is inside, but anyone can stand outside and watch you get money and see where you put it. Try to use one in Whole Foods at Mt. Washington.
  • Avoid ATMs in high-crime on the street locations, where the machine is right there outside on the street--unless the guard is present. I don't, for example, recommend using the one at 26th and Charles anytime, unless both your car and the guard is there. 
  • If you're going to use one, survey the area as you approach, either on foot or in your car. Look for people "hanging around"--both in cars or on foot. If you see anyone staring at you, however briefly, consider not engaging in the transaction. Seriously. 
  • Watch out for corners and right angles of buildings, where someone could just be out of your sight. 
  • Don't leave your car running, even for  a moment, if you're not in it; and don't leave the door open. It draws attention and puts ideas in people's heads. You'd be surprised how many women leave the rest of their purse on the front seat.
  • If you do get confronted by a robber, try to make the transaction as quick as an ATM withdrawal--and as pleasant as possible. Do not resist unless you are specially trained or skilled to do so (I don't mean a self-defense class several years ago). Many of these stickup artists are drunk or high, have poor decision-making skills, and are impulsive. They are disinclined to put up with any "disrespect". You can say something like: here, you can have it, that's all I've got.
  • I would recommend at all costs not getting into their car or your car with  them. You may not have an option depending on your situation, but it should certainly be only if you have no other choice.
  • And of course a lot of people have almost stopped carrying cash altogether so they don't have to visit ATM machines hardly at all.



7 comments:

Bmore said...

Thanks for the tips Buz..

helix said...

Thanks Buz, for the excellent practical advice.

One thing I wish the ATM makers would do is to make their damn ATM's silent. I used the one at Broadway and Fleet a while back (I know, bad idea). Every damn keypress emitted a piecing loud "BING!"-- as if to alert every mugger within a one block radius.

buzoncrime said...

helix---I understand exactly what you're say. However, I think those in security have mixed feelings about that: on one hand as you point out, it may alert muggers nearby. But on the other hand, it draws attention to you by any and all other people in the vicinity, much as a car alarm might, and muggers might think that you've drawn too much attention.

It's probably a wash, though I tend to side with you: someone could follow you after the bings alerted them you were drawing money out. But if they were going to rob someone and watching the ATM, they probably don't need to hear the bings anyway.

I believe that there was a story recently about someone who got kidnapped and among other things, the thugs took the person to Broadway and Fleet and made them withdraw money there.

By the way, the ATM I mentioned in my original post is the one I use a lot; it had been emitting a piercing ping every key pressed, plus an annoying 4 pings when your transactions was complete; interestingly, they recently modified it so it is now completely silent.

Your ATM is probably ok during the day, but I'd never use that one at night unless I really needed to but you might check if the Inner Harbor East Whole Food has one inside. Also, if you're up near Homewood Hopkins, inside of Wolman Hall on 34th Street, there's one in the lobby the public can use, and there's a guard right there.

buzoncrime said...

helix---I understand exactly what you're say. However, I think those in security have mixed feelings about that: on one hand as you point out, it may alert muggers nearby. But on the other hand, it draws attention to you by any and all other people in the vicinity, much as a car alarm might, and muggers might think that you've drawn too much attention.

It's probably a wash, though I tend to side with you: someone could follow you after the bings alerted them you were drawing money out. But if they were going to rob someone and watching the ATM, they probably don't need to hear the bings anyway.

I believe that there was a story recently about someone who got kidnapped and among other things, the thugs took the person to Broadway and Fleet and made them withdraw money there.

By the way, the ATM I mentioned in my original post is the one I use a lot; it had been emitting a piercing ping every key pressed, plus an annoying 4 pings when your transactions was complete; interestingly, they recently modified it so it is now completely silent.

Your ATM is probably ok during the day, but I'd never use that one at night unless I really needed to but you might check if the Inner Harbor East Whole Food has one inside. Also, if you're up near Homewood Hopkins, inside of Wolman Hall on 34th Street, there's one in the lobby the public can use, and there's a guard right there.

buzoncrime said...

helix---I understand exactly what you're say. However, I think those in security have mixed feelings about that: on one hand as you point out, it may alert muggers nearby. But on the other hand, it draws attention to you by any and all other people in the vicinity, much as a car alarm might, and muggers might think that you've drawn too much attention.

It's probably a wash, though I tend to side with you: someone could follow you after the bings alerted them you were drawing money out. But if they were going to rob someone and watching the ATM, they probably don't need to hear the bings anyway.

I believe that there was a story recently about someone who got kidnapped and among other things, the thugs took the person to Broadway and Fleet and made them withdraw money there.

By the way, the ATM I mentioned in my original post is the one I use a lot; it had been emitting a piercing ping every key pressed, plus an annoying 4 pings when your transactions was complete; interestingly, they recently modified it so it is now completely silent.

Your ATM is probably ok during the day, but I'd never use that one at night unless I really needed to but you might check if the Inner Harbor East Whole Food has one inside. Also, if you're up near Homewood Hopkins, inside of Wolman Hall on 34th Street, there's one in the lobby the public can use, and there's a guard right there.

MJB said...

the pizza remark reminded me, as much crime news as we read, even Baltimoreans are much more likely to be felled by lifestyle choices (booze, smokes & high-fat foods) than criminals. Watch your cholesterol Buz!
.. I'm going to go mix myself a martini now...

buzoncrime said...

MJB---I was interested to read, on Peter Hermann's blog, the stats from the health department: the deaths in Bmore from alcohol or drug overdose/intoxication are comparable in number to the amount of homicides each year. In fact, in 6 of the last 12 years measured, the overdose deaths by either alcohol or drugs exceeded the number of homicides--and are four times the rate of the state and the country as a whole. (and they don't count deaths related to drugged/drunk driving-just overdose "intoxication".)

Cholesterol's fine, thanks. Now, let me get a drink.