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[VIDEO] Explosives Used to Break into Machine during ATM Robbery, Thieves Caught on HD Camera

On August 11, 2017, two criminals drove their SUV up to a Gas Station ATM Kiosk with a plan. They planned to execute an ATM robbery by blowing up the ATM with some sort of liquid explosive. It is clear from this video, it’s not the first time they are attempting this. They are wanted by the FBI. The authorities were very excited to see the quality of our security footage.

Authorities_On_Scene

Authorities at the Crime Scene of the ATM Robbery in San Diego, CA

When you start using explosives on an ATM, you attract a lot of attention. You get the local police, sheriffs, SWAT, the Bomb Squad, ATF, and the FBI involved. That’s a lot of manpower hunting you down.

These guys are wanted by the FBI. It’s not just a local crime.  Is a few grand worth having to hide and run for the rest of your life? I don’t think so.

The suspects think they got away with it. However, as time will tell, and with the help of this HD video, and the enhancement tools Federal Law Enforcement agencies have available, they will most likely do time behind bars for this ATM robbery.  Maybe they will save all the money they stole to pay for their lawyer. They will need it.

I’ve been in the ATM business since 1994. Since then, I’ve helped hundreds of Independent ATM Deployers (IAD’s) start, run, and maintain successful ATM businesses. I’ve personally sold or installed hundreds and hundreds of ATM machines. I currently manage thousands of machines and hundreds of thousands of ATM transactions nationwide and I’ve never, ever seen anything like this.

This location has been a customer of ours for over a decade. We’ve never had any issue until we installed a new kiosk.  While this small kiosk does not appear to be bomb proof, the old kiosk building we used previously onsite was. Unfortunately for us the gas station – car wash is undergoing a remodel and needed to demolish the building, so we had to move the ATM to the other side of the parking lot.

In order not to inhibit the authority’s investigation, we won’t go into the details of what the authorities knew in this article.

However, now that we know all the details we can help others.

So, if you plan to install a kiosk and you are one of our customers (or want to be), please contact our office for some additional help.

We learned an expensive lesson, so we hope to use it to educate our customers.

ATM Depot can certainly help you avoid the same fate. We thought we prepared for every security scenario but they proved us wrong on this one. The key is that we learned an awful lot from this and can now assist our customers even better when dealing with outdoor ATMs.

**** UPDATE ****

September 28, 2017

After many calls between the account manager, Jeremy, and the FBI and ATF, on this situation, we learned that the authorities were able to issue a subpoena at the home of Scott Michael Petri. We are not sure how all this went down but we speculate that the FBI was able to leverage the information obtained in the video of the ATM robbery. According to law enforcement, one of the suspects bragged to a confidential informant about the crime. Upon serving a subpoena at the suspects home, the Law enforcement authorities say they found a drill, a gas cylinder, clothing and other incriminating evidence in his home that matched the items in the surveillance video during the crime.

Court documents allege (and video shows) Petri used a cordless drill to make two holes in the ATM machine’s housing. A second unidentified suspect (now in custody) approached the ATM with an open flame (see video, looks like a cigarette) and lit a fuse.  The suspects drove to the other side of the gas station and the ATM exploded. See the entire ATM robbery (edited for time) in the video above.

Suspect_Searching

The suspect (circled) is searching for the cash box after the ATM robbery explosion

The August robbery was the second time this year an explosive device was used on an ATM in San Diego, according to the FBI.

**** UPDATE ****

October 5, 2017

Scott Michael Petri faces a charge of using an explosive to damage property relating to a robbery at the Chevron Station and Pit Stop Car Wash on Miramar Road just south of the 15 Freeway entrance. The suspect was picked up and booked on October 5th and transferred into Federal custody and is being held in the Federal Prison in Downtown San Diego by the ATF. Bail has been set at $250,000.

ATM_Suspect_Arrested

Public arrest records for Scott Michael Petri. One of the suspects in the ATM robbery.

Free Money: There Is Such A Thing

Free MoneyPeople don’t think there’s such a thing as “free money,” but as one ATM distributor in the UK found out, unfortunately, there is. When the ATM cash machine performed a faulty operation, the machine started giving out twice the amount of cash that customers were requesting.

The machine did this for a few hours before the police were summoned to come in and guard the machine from further theft (theft? really?) and to maintain secure premises and keep down any confusion. It seems that the crowd was starting to get a little boisterous and the shoving and pushing to get in the long line was getting out of control. After all, there was “free money” to be had, and everyone wanted a piece of it.

Just to be clear, this was definitely a fluke with the machine, and there is no ATM machine anywhere that purposefully gives out wads of money to its customers. Something faulty had gone wrong with the machine or someone forgot to change the default password to change the denomination settings, and customers were getting twice the amount of money that they were requesting. Word about the free cash quickly spread, and that’s when people started lining up to partake of what was, to some, their dreams coming true!

What’s a Business Owner To Do To Avoid Giving Away Free Money?

Avoid Giving Away Free MoneyThe owner of the cash machine of course had to work quickly to correct the mistake, but according to the bank, they could not and would not hold the customers liable for an error that their machine had made.

This leaves a lot of questions in the mind of any business owner, like:

  • shouldn’t the customers return the money?
  • how can the business owner recoup these “lost funds?”
  • what exactly happened with the machine to cause this error?
  • what can be done to ensure that it does NOT happen again?

There’s no way to be sure to tell what happened, how it could have been avoided and what can be done to avoid it in the future. But as an ATM cash machine owner, there are some things that a businessperson can and should do to lessen the chances of this happening with his cash machines.

1. Have the machines serviced regularly.

Don’t just plop down a cash machine in a spot and leave it there without periodic checks and maintenances. It’s important to do more than ensure the machine has adequate cash, but to also check to make sure that the software is up-to-date, that the hardware is working properly (slots, trays, etc.) and there are no visible signs of wear (rust, corrosion, etc.) that would hinder the machine in any way from working properly.

2. Check on the machines regularly.

Actually going to the machine site on a routine basis is important. Whether this is once weekly or three times a week, anything can happen so it’s imperative to stay ahead of any potential issues by keeping a close eye on things. This means more than just restocking it with cash and paper. Perform routine system checks in addition to visual checks, and make sure to physically handle the machine when you do.

3. Consult Professionals

If anything like what happened with the wayward cash machine were to ever happen to you as an ATM cash machine owner, you’d want to know what your recourses were (if any) and how you’d need to go about taking care of this issue. Consult your business attorney(s) to see if:

a. you have any recourse

b. you can ask for/insist that customers return the money

c. you should file an insurance claim to recover your losses

d. there really isn’t anything you can do, and you should just chalk it all up to unfortunate incidents.

3. Change Default Passwords and Admin Function Codes

When ATM Machines ship from the factory they are all shipped with the same administrative passwords and lock combinations. One of the first things that needs to be updated are the administrative and management passwords.  If you are installing the ATM yourself, be sure to change these passwords. If you have your ATM professionally installed, be sure to ask your installer to walk you through the change process and don’t give anyone your passwords.

A legal professional as well as the ATM distributor may be able to assist you on what actions you can and should take, and what you should reasonably expect from such a situation. Although in the UK case, the owners had to suffer a loss, but that may vary from one company and one situation to another. It’s best to know for sure before giving up.

Finding the Cash

ATM businessIf you have an ATM business, then you’ve already done your research and found it to be one of the most lucrative businesses you could have chosen to be in. The ATM business is easy to manage and operate, and you’re all but guaranteed a profit from your customers…that is, those that can find your machines.

A lot of the problem that most ATM owners face is finding ideal locations to put their cash machines. It may seem that this is a no-brainer since everybody at one time or another needs to get to an ATM machine. Surprisingly however, there are some business owners who are often surprised by the lack of traffic that their machines often get. Is this lack of traffic due to location, visibility, dependability or availability?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Cash machine owners must understand that customers who frequent ATM machines are those who need convenience and flexibility. If your machines are in the right place, at the right time, and at the right locations, then your profits are all but guaranteed, and a happy customer you will make!

Location

ATM locationAlthough it may not seem or sound like a big enough deal, but location is crucial to the success of your ATM cash business. There are definitely good spots AND bad spots where you can position your ATM machines. Put it in the wrong place (or a not-as-good-as-can-be place), and your profits suffer. Put the machine in the right place (such as, IDEAL), and your profits soar. Where are little known and good spots?

  • Outdoor concerts and venues
  • Traveling fairs and carnivals
  • Schools (colleges, high schools, universities)

Visibility

As if location itself weren’t important enough, the visibility of your ATM machine is the second most important consideration for you to look at once you’ve found the ideal spot.

It doesn’t do your machine any good to be in the ideal spot, but no one can see it or doesn’t even know it’s there. Steer clear of placing the machine behind venues where it’s likely the machine won’t be seen. If it’s permissible with the venue’s owners or managers, ask to have signs pointing to where your machines will be located on the property. This is something that is certainly workable with negotiating, especially if there are multiple ATM’s on the site.

Also, when you’re looking for good visibility, also be aware of security and placing the machine where people won’t be worried about using the machine. Place in a well-lit, approachable place where there’s a fair amount of foot traffic, but not too crowded. You also don’t want customers to feel uneasy if there’s TOO much traffic around him while he’s making a transaction.

Dependability

Now that customers know where the machines are located at the fantastic venue or permanent location, you’ll need to be sure that your machines are operating in good condition and well-stocked. There is nothing as aggravating to an ATM customer as to traipse all over the venue or site to get to your machines….and they don’t work!

Make it a point to perform routine maintenance on the ATM machines to ensure that they’re all working properly. Do this especially, and more importantly, before big events. If there are any problems that arise with the unit, have them serviced as soon as possible. In the case of machines that are inoperable for long periods of time, use an alternative solution. If you own multiple machines in the same venue, direct customers to where they can find your other cash machines on the property.

Also, make sure the cash is in the machines, and in sufficient denominations for the customers. This is a task that you will want to check on more often than a couple of times a week, especially if the machine is in a permanent location.

Availability

Where there’s an ATM machine, there will certainly be customers who will use it. With that, there needs to be machines available for them to use. In other words, be creative about where you choose to put your cash machines. If the places are safe enough and have high foot and/or car traffic, then your machine will certainly get some customers and make a profit. But, if there’s not an option for them to use, no one profits on either side.

Just by taking a little time to ramp up your ATM cash machine marketing efforts can make all the difference in your bottom line. Get creative with your placements, and take all of the above steps into consideration with your business. Provide a way for customers to find the cash machines, and you’ll have a way to make your business a successful one.