Namma Bengaluru: ATM kiosks no longer have 24×7 security, say police

This has emboldened thieves, and given rise to skimming and related crimes

A few days ago, two bikers tried to break open an ATM of a public sector bank at Divanarapalya in Yeshwantpur. The kiosk did not have a security guard, local residents foiled the attempt. They heard noise from the ATM and confronted the thieves who fled.

This is not an isolated case, said the city police. “There has been a rise in the number of cases of theft from and tampering of ATMs over the last few months. Thieves are getting bolder because a large number of kiosks across the city do not have security guards even though it is mandatory,” said a senior police official.

In 2013, the then police commissioner had issued guidelines on the need for guards. This measure was taken after Jyoti Uday, a Corporation Bank branch manager, was attacked by an armed man in an ATM kiosk on N.R. Square. The incident triggered panic, which prompted the city police to direct banks to provide round-the-clock security at ATM kiosks. When banks did not comply immediately, the then city police chief, issued an order to shut down over 1,100 ATM kiosks.

Six years later, security measures at kiosks has once again dropped. “Security arrangements have been slowly phased out. A majority of ATMs are operating without security personnel and safety measures,” said a police officer.

The lack of security measures has emboldened thieves, and has given rise to skimming and related crimes.

Hoysala personnel and police constables on patrol duty have been instructed to monitor ATM kiosks on their beat. “It is mandatory for us to visit them a few times during patrol duty. But it is not enough, as we are understaffed. Banks should have security personnel all through the day and night,” said a constable.

Another police officer said, “Due to strict enforcement by the then city police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar, banks had deployed security personnel. But they seem to have withdrawn personnel from ATMs.”

The owner of a private security company said that banks stopped availing security personnel, especially after demonetisation. “We lost contracts after that. Since police commissioners keep changing, there is no strict implementation of the rule. Are they waiting for another tragedy to enforce the guidelines again?”

A senior officer working with the risk management team of a private bank blamed the economic slowdown. “The rise of theft or even skimming scams is not an adequate incentive as we are covered for such losses. Managing ATMs with round-the-clock security personnel is not financially feasible,” he said.

A spokesperson for Indian Bank said that all its ATMs are under e-surveillance. “This is a centrally monitored system, which works on an alert-based model. Sensors are in place. In case of any suspicion, an alarm is raised. Subsequently, the nearest police station is informed. We have witnessed success through this system, especially during night time,” said the spokesperson.

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