When asked why he robbed banks, Brooklyn-born bank robber Willie Sutton famously replied: “That’s where the money is.” If Willie was around today he’d see automatic teller machines and laugh. Or rub his hands with glee. While the potential earnings are small compared to the dough inside a bank, the minimal time required to rob a customer and low risk of detection and apprehension make the job as easy as, well, taking money from an ATM . . .
ATM’s are a robbery waiting to happen. There’s no live surveillance, no guard to scare-off robbers. Anyone who sees you there KNOWS you’re getting cash (or can be forced to get cash). Worst of all, you’re facing away from approaching foot or car traffic. Even if you’ve amped-up your situational awareness – using your senses of hearing and smell I suppose – you’re focusing on a task requiring a fair amount of concentration. You’ll never see the robber coming.
But wait! There’s more! Not all bad guys are stupid enough to get close enough to the ATM camera when relieving a customer of their hard-earned cash. They wait, follow you for a bit, and then attack. Why not? They get plenty of time to check-out the area, identify people who look like money, figure out which way they might travel and set a trap. How great is that?
At least the “off-site” scenario offers you a better chance to see the attack coming, run and/or defend yourself with a firearm. The back-to-the-attacker-at-the-bank scenario has you playing twenty yards behind the starting line. Draw on a drawn gun or held knife? Not recommended. Not saying it can’t be done . . .
Yes, well, consider the adrenalin, police investigation, paperwork and overall hassle of dealing with the aftermath of a successful defensive gun use at an ATM. Do you really want to do any of that if you don’t have to? Sure, there are dozens of videos (like the one below) offering strategies for surviving an ATM robbery. Some of it even makes sense. But do any of the encounters look like fun?
The simpler, easier option: use a debit card for your purchases. Alternatively, keep a small stash of cash at home for your own ATM. If you HAVE to get cash from an ATM, use one inside a bank or store. If you’re using a convenience store ATM, for example, remember to look for lingerers lingering, waiting for some palooka to withdraw cash and leave the store. And keep your guard up as you leave – and beyond!