Urban legend has it that someone asked legendary bank robber Willy Sutton why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is,” he replied. Allegedly. It’s certainly true that latter day bad guys are attracted to ATM machines like moths to a flame. ‘Cause that’s where the money is. All cash-seeking criminals have to do: wait for you to withdraw the funds and then “convince” you to surrender the money. Motivation may include beating, stabbing and shooting. In rare cases like the one above, a good guy fights back with ballistic conviction and wins. Yay us! In most cases, no. Not at all. In fact, the ATM thing is a bit of a scandal . . .
Banks could do a LOT more to make ATM’s safer for their customers. A mirror above the money machine could increase situational awareness exponentially. A big ass camera right above the no-armed bandit wouldn’t go amiss either. Banks could also educate customers on some simple rules: go with a friend (a.k.a., lookout), scan the area for bad guys before approaching the machine, keep a hand on a revolver in your pocket, etc.
[NOTE: some states prohibit carrying a gun into a bank. Some banks position their ATMs inside glass fishbowls just outside the lobby or attached to the main building. That counts as “in” the bank.]
TTAG’s gonna do its part for ATM security with this simple piece of advice: don’t use bank ATMs at night. It’s a stupid place (thug magnet) where stupid people (the aforementioned bad guys) do stupid things (rob people). Put another way, the bad guys can’t mug you if you’re not there to be mugged.
If you need late night cash (e.g., babysitter baksheesh) go inside a supermarket, gas station or Stop ‘N Rob. While those locales may also be high-crime areas, at least you have some concealment, a bit of back-up, the possibility of police awareness and a beeper that tells you when someone’s coming in the door. Also, the ATM’s are small enough that you can see what’s going on around you.
The hero above gets full marks for marksmanship and moxie. But no amount of skill with armed self-defense changes the simple fact that the only gunfight you’re guaranteed to win is the one you never have.