ATM attackers exploit poor policing

2012-02-04 07:42

Disarray in the crime intelligence unit and a lack of experienced detectives could be the reason for an increase in automated teller machine (ATM) attacks in the past year.

A crime expert said yesterday organised crime syndicates were taking advantage of weaknesses in the policing system, said Institute for Security Studies crime and justice expert Johan Burger.

“One huge weakness is the inability to produce usable crime intelligence about syndicates because of internal problems. There is huge disarray at the moment,” he said.

“We also need more investigation into these cases. There is far too little attention on appointing experienced detectives which leads to successful prosecutions.”

Burger said something significant had caused a 61% jump in the past year. A total of 399 attacks took place in 2010/2011 compared with 247 attacks in 2009/2010, with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal the biggest targets.

But cash-in-transit heists were at their lowest levels in four years. “Cash-in-transit heists became a huge risk. Those criminals involved in syndicates switched attention to a softer target which is less risky and these are ATMs,” Burger said.

Visible policing at ATMs had resulted in some success but needed to be strengthened.

The banking industry also needed to change its perspective.

“To them, ATMs should be client-friendly and easily accessible. Criminals see this as a weakness and exploit this. Banks will have to re-think the location of these machines,” Burger said.

Most attacks took place between 2am and 5am in areas with poor lighting and many attacks were inside jobs as it would be pointless to break open a machine with no money.

On Tuesday, robbers made off with cash after blowing up an ATM near a convenience store in Durban Road, Bellville.

An ATM on Vasco Boulevard in Goodwood, Cape Town, was bombed in the early hours of Friday morning. 

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