Physical attacks on cash machines: why an armour isn’t enough

17 June 2019
Press Release
Press Release/News
New report calls for renewed attention to ATM physical security

Whether it is explosive gas attacks, the use of cutting tools to breach the automated teller machine (ATM) or ram attacks that aim to physical remove the entire ATM, criminals are willing to use extreme measures to capture the prized loot.

According to the latest figures from the European Association for Secure Transactions, reporting countries saw a 27% increase in ATM physical attacks in 2018, costing the economy over €36 million in Europe in 2018 alone.

With the number of physical attacks on the rise – and the potential to lose tens of thousands of euros in just a few moments if they are successful – it is not something an operator can afford to take lightly.

In a paper published today, Europol and the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) call for a three – step strategy to combat and prevent this crime: reduce the rewards, increase the risk and increase the effort.

While one approach to the problem of physical attacks is to harden the security of ATMs, making it more demanding for offenders to attack such machines, another way to prevent this crime is to spoil the criminals’ loot, reducing their desire to engage in this type of crime.

Such measures include lowering the amount of cash in ATMs by limiting the replenished cash to that sufficient for one day, or making the money traceable by staining the stolen notes, making it impossible for criminals to spend this money.

Parallel measures aimed at increasing the detection and punishment should complete the preventive strategy. The information gathering and sharing between all relevant stakeholders is key, as is the exchange of high-quality CCTV images and sound data to increase the chances of early detection and successful investigations.

Such measures should be adopted at the European level in order to avoid that strong measures in one country drive organised crime groups towards more vulnerable countries.

These are some of the findings of today’s report, summarising the conclusions of a conference organised earlier this year by the EUCPN and Europol which brought together law enforcement together with public and private partners together to look at the prevention of this crime.

More details can be found in the report itself: PREVENTING PHYSICAL ATM ATTACKS