ATM robberies on the increase

A five-year study by the Australian Institute of Criminology has found that increased use of ATMs has been matched by a rise in ATM robberies. Over the five-year period the number of times people were forced to hand over their money at the machines has risen 108 per cent although overall numbers remain small. In 1995 there were 52 robberies at ATMs, compared with 104 in 2000. The average amount of money stolen each time was $300.

In 2000 there was one robbery for every 3.5 million transactions, compared with one per 5.8 million transactions in 1995. About 22 per cent of the robberies took place between 7pm and 10pm. In some instances people were kidnapped and forced to use their cards in different locations. About 36 per cent of the robberies in the ACT involved physical harm, while 6 per cent of those in Victoria involved a weapon of some kind.

The AIC's Dr Russell Smith said he was surprised by the low numbers of thefts, given that people perceive it to be a risky activity. But he said it's not a trivial event for those people robbed. He encourages the use of ATMs in well-lit, secure places, and for people to get their cash quickly. Using EFTPOS terminals is also a good alternative or online banking, he said.
Dr Smith said the study's results will contribute to proposals being presented to the Australian Bankers' Association on making ATMs safer.