Hook and Chain Gangs Wreak Havoc for Banking Institutions

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According to a release from U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Steward for the Middle District of Tennessee, four men from the Houston, Texas area are facing federal charges after a lengthy investigation by the FBI into a series of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) thefts in Middle Tennessee and elsewhere. All of the men were charged with conspiracy and bank larceny, following the theft from an ATM machine in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, hours earlier.

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On April 4, 2021, an ATM theft took place at a Wilson Bank & Trust in Murfreesboro. Video surveillance captured two suspects wearing dark clothing and ski masks arriving at the bank around 1:14 a.m. driving in a Chevrolet 2500 pickup. The suspects were caught on camera prying open the ATM and used the chain and hooks to force open the safe inside, before taking the cash and fleeing the scene.

Investigators determined that the same vehicle used in this theft was stolen in the evening on April 3rd. While reviewing surveillance footage just hours before the crime, investigators identified a black Dodge Durango with a Texas license plate; the driver appeared to have been casing the machine.

To read the full release click here.

Typically using a stolen pickup truck, criminals will target Automated Teller Machines (ATM) for this brute force attack. The attacks usually take place from late at night to very early morning hours when few people are around. The perpetrators attach a large chain and/or cable to the ATM, hooking those chains and/or cables to the vehicle and attempting to physically pull off the door of the safe of the ATM. The force allows them to open the ATM safe doors. These attacks take less than 10 minutes resulting in extensive damage. Freestanding, drive-up island ATMs are particularly vulnerable to chain and hooks type of attacks.

As criminals use new methods to attack ATMs, including using vehicles to pull open the ATM safe doors, it is important to rethink and modernize security to help reduce ATM crimes. Security Magazine provides a few tips to help mitigate the risk and protect ATMs:

  • ATMs should be properly secured to the floor and walls
  • Consider the placement of your ATMs; is it in a well lit, populated area?
  • Implement a layered security approach
  • Advanced instruction detection systems should be added

To learn more about the tips on how to mitigate the risk click here.

Source: SECURITY Magazine

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