How to Steal A.T.M.s: Two Guys, a Crowbar and ‘Brute Force’

A crew of thieves struck at least nine times in the last three months, netting about $39,000 in ill-gotten gains.


Comments: 77

  1. In a way I find it heartwarming to read this story about old-fashioned guys willing to do hard physical work to make a modest living.

  2. @JL Williams Thank you for this comment - it was the proverbial cherry on the cake of this neatly-crafted, fine piece of quality journalism! (I really came here to salute the author - I thoroughly enjoyed his witticisms - "the stealth and finesse of a demolition team", etc. It was an unexpectedly, counter-intuitively feel-good news article, indeed)

  3. True! And just wait until they rake a crowbar to your front door while you're at work. In my neighborhood, they lift cars onto blocks and steal tires. Not the hard, old-fashioned labor my grandfathers did, but hey.

  4. @Leonid Andreev I agree. Michael Wilson has a long-time fan in me (and, I'm sure, many others).

  5. I've seen similar stories in Ireland. They steal bulldozers and backhoes to harvest ATMs.

  6. Now, that must be a real sight to see!

  7. These guys are working too hard for their haul. The easy way is to get the manufacturer's key and open up the ATM. That gives you access to the software but not to the safe. So then you upload your software and the machine spits out the money. ATMs are connected online so the manufacturer can update the software. That means you can connect remotely and install your software while also collecting credit card numbers. Then you visit your ATM, input your pin, and the money flies out. Our voting machines are also connected remotely and are just as easily hacked from anywhere in the world. Then you watch the vote totals of every precinct and adjust the vote so your side wins by just enough. The only difficulty is that many other hackers will be doing the same thing.

  8. @Fourteen14 ATM means, asychronous Transfer mode, in networking. An ATM is networked to a mainframe, point to point. You're incorrect about the ease with which any machine could connect to a mainframe. There have been more than forty years of technology involving security software to prevent what you describe. Look up sniffer software for starters . RACF.

  9. @RR I could have sworn ATM meant Automatic Teller Machine.

  10. @RR I don't think so. ATM means automated teller machine for starters and forty years of security technology also means forty years of hacking technology. The Ploutus malware will get right in. As for packet sniffers hackers use that to intercept data, which can be decoded. Hacking an ATM is easy for most kids, it's called "jackpotting".

  11. Tough way to make a living is a few thousand a clip?? Try the average wage slave at a few hundred a clip for 49 hours a week.

  12. @mac One of these ATM jobs probably consumes one day, cumulatively: casing, planning, executing, disbursing, maybe stealing a car. Three guys, according to the article. Six successful jobs, 18 man-days. That's about two grand per day, writing some off for the three unsuccessful jobs. Not bad for a side hustle. My worry is electrical accidents!

  13. @mac They make money the old fashioned way, they EARN it!

  14. Don't ATMs have ink bombs that render money useless if the machine is tampered with?

  15. I don't have much sympathy for the small business owners in this story. These small ATMs charge huge fees, and a "cash only" policy is a big red flag for tax fraud.

  16. @Steve no it isn't. The business owners eat 3.5% on every credit card transaction (or thereabouts). How would you like someone taking 3.5% of what you earn? My wife runs a small business, check or cash only. And every penny gets reported. Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

  17. Please refer to the movie, "Barbershop" to see how to properly steal an ATM.

  18. Don't these ATM machines have GPS microchips attached?

  19. @Michael If they don't, I guess they should. But what good would it do to find in some back alley somewhere? It is unlikely they would be tracked in real time.

  20. These guys are probably not the brightest lights on the block. Say, for the sake of argument, there are four of them. They have made less than 10 grand each. The banks or ATM companies will offer a reward and someone will decide to make the money the easy way - with a phone call. The picture shows they don't know how to lift so they will all have back aches. No chiropractic in prison. The will leave a print at some point. This is not a career choice.

  21. @Sharon ok boomer

  22. @Sharon. Maybe they stop on the way home from running a major bank or brokerage firm for a little pocket money.

  23. Dedication and hard work are always the keys to success!

  24. All that work and risk for a fairly minimal payout of $39k? Split three ways? Over three months? They might as well be working regular jobs!

  25. @Mr. Adams But working regular jobs and keeping those jobs longer than a few minutes takes human virtue, not just physical strength. You know -- patience, daily diligence, a sense of responsibility. Compared to that, theft is a relatively easy way to make a living. They could also go to school and learn some legitimate expertise to market, but that would take human virtue as well. Theft is the lazy way out.

  26. @Mr. Adams Lots of regular jobs pay less than $4,000 per month, which is what these guys took home if there are 3 of them over 3 months. And that is take home pay, no taxes or deductions.

  27. @michaelscody Besides all that it's exciting.

  28. Seems like a lot of work for only $39,000. If it's a 5 man crew, that's still only $7800 each. Is this really worth it?

  29. @PubliusMaximus Maybe they think an ATM prints (endless) money. Where do you feed in the paper and put in fresh ink?

  30. Technology, meet jack hammer. Putting the "Old" back in OG.

  31. Been passed by motorcycle gangs riding about 120 mph around New York throughfares? Sounds to me as if the perps are enjoying themselves when not on their bikes. The police are very good at stopping someone with long hair, searching cars, holding wallets and giving out tickets to single peds but when it comes to gangs not so much.

  32. For god's sake add some lead weights to the bottom of the thing that is very hard to remove. Then go to the hospital and see who shows up with a torn spinal disks. Case Closed.

  33. What happened to the little guy who lives in the machines and slips the bills out through the slot?

  34. Thieves lurk everywhere.

  35. I wonder what ATM fees that banks charge for burglarizing an ATM.

  36. In Holland ATM’s are blown up with gas and explosives with so much force it destroyes a complete part of the building. I think I prefer these old school “crowbar” thieves……

  37. The interesting thing to me is all the businessmen who are willing to put up with the theft and property damage to keep their customers paying cash. I guess insurance covers the property damage, the bank replaces the ATM, and the IRS can't bother to investigate the businesses for tax avoidance.

  38. @617to416 I'm sorry...am I ignorant? My understanding of the reason that many small retail operations prefer cash is because of the cost of credit card transactions, including fees, recovery of unpaid accounts, cost of fraud, etc. It's not (I thought) that most tiny businesses are ripping off the government, big time (not paying taxes). For example,in my region most gas stations offer two prices: those with cards, those with cash. Pretty hard to believe that they're all not paying taxes.

  39. @617to416 Many small businesses prefer cash because it's easier to hide from the tax authorities.

  40. @walkman I'm sure. But other businesses have other, more legitimate, reasons.

  41. Wouldn't it make sense to remove the money at the end of the day and put it in a safe? It seems strange to leave what amounts to a big box of cash sitting on the street overnight.

  42. @Bill For security reasons the store owners do not usually have a key for the ATM. No way to tell if that policy saves loses or not, I suppose.

  43. When a thief tries to hot-wire a car which is "armed" with a disabling alarm, the car becomes immobile. It should not be rocket science to manufacture ATM's such that any kind of force applied signals an alarm and a GPS.

  44. I read that my TV can be hacked to spy on me. How nice. Why can't these ATM's be fitted to watch for and rat on thieves?

  45. Let me get this straight. There aren't alarms on ATM's that go off if they're pried loose from their foundations? There's not GPS tracking devices built into them? What good do cameras do but document the rip off? People can't be that dumb not to take precautions when building and installing these things; can they?

  46. 38k. That’s a lot of rocks.

  47. I thought these had alarms sealed in them with a battery so if you ripped one out you had this really loud noisemaker to deal with.

  48. Kind of an extreme way to avoid ATM fees isn’t it?

  49. @Reg - Sure to be my best laugh of the day!!

  50. oh no! a bank lost its money after they regularly steal from us. as long as they dont physically hurt any poor folks, not gonna cry about it. Robin hood is a hero and so are these folks. Hope they're paying off their predatory loans to the same banks they stole from with it. But if they're just buying big screens and surround sound, I'm ok with that too.

  51. “It’s a rough way to make a living,” Detective Morales said. “A few thousand dollars at a clip.” And yet, if these guys get caught, they will do hard time -- a couple of years at least. Meanwhile the banksters who did the same thing in 2008 but from inside the bank, got away with billions, and are living high on the hog. Many of them are agitating to be allowed to do the same thing all over again.

  52. @whaddoino Or, as Theodore Roosevelt put it: "A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad."

  53. LOL. 40K vs. 40 Billion (yes that is a B) for electronic ripoffs. Not much of a comparison is it?

  54. You'd think the operators of the ATMs would have an interest in making them more secure. But some self-insurance is probably built into the high fees they charge. It's also a tax deductible business loss, so between the users and the tax payers they have it covered, so why worry?

  55. @PJ Nope, not at all. The banks have very little incentive. As in almost all theft from businesses, the honest paying consumers just make up the losses in higher prices. The businesses lose nothing.

  56. How can these machines not have GPS built in?

  57. @Agustus Agustusson I suppose the machines are not stolen often enough to justify the cost of installing a battery powered cell phone and GPS. There are thousands of the machines, after all. I think it would make more sense to wire the machines to an alarm which triggers when the machine is ripped away, calling the police. Perhaps they already do that? Perhaps the police are slow to respond? I looked this up, but I do not know. In Japan, ATM machines are wired with an alarm. They are often located outdoors. Gangs steal them when there is a construction project nearby. Apparently, all of the bulldozers and other equipment uses a common key, so they steal a bulldozer, uproot the machine, and get out in the 5 or 10 minutes it takes the police to arrive.

  58. @Jed Rothwell maybe police share the profits with those guys? Lol :))

  59. I don’t think this what the banks have in mind when they advertise “mobile banking”.

  60. I’m grateful that “ATM machine” was not written in this article. My pet peeve.

  61. How lo-tech can you get? Thieves in Northern Ireland have been "stealing" ATMs for the last few years using backhoes and assorted construction machines. Ripping the machines completely out of closed businesses. Again, America is falling behind.

  62. @Fred quit trying to help the enemy. the banks deserve far more stolen(taken back ) from them

  63. Here in Singapore, we have no such problems. Get caught stealing $39K? Face the prospect of 10-15 strokes of the cane. Makes the Tombs or Rikers look like a day at the beach.

  64. @John meanwhile the bankers steal millions and serve no time at all

  65. 40 grand? They're gonna be spending more on chiropractors, massages, and meds after this. Definitely not the sharpest tools in the shed are they? And in spite of that the cops can't catch them. What does that say about the police - besides them being the largest waste of money in running a town there is?

  66. @Anton menthol?

  67. Willie Sutton they ain’t.

  68. @Lost in Space Sutton said go where the money is and that's what these guys did.

  69. @Lynn in DC They didn’t make off with two million smackers, is what I meant.

  70. The only solution is some sort of rocket system to go on when the machine is being attacked. The ATM could the take off and after a safe ways away a parachute could be deployed to land safely in my back yard.

  71. to big for small work and to small for big work

  72. Three men, $39,000; $13,000 per man; three months, $4,333 per month per man. Not Topkapi sized scores, to be sure, but a living wage.

  73. We lost trillion dollars during the 2008 meltdown, mortgage, banks causing it, I wonder what punishment you get if you are bank, wall street banker that steals money, over charges etc in Texas, Ny? Home detention for a week? Lol Anyone went to jail for causing, stealing in 2008?

  74. I detest theft of any sort, be it a ATM or a package left on a front porch. What is missing is a value system in certain segments of society.

  75. Remember Breaking Bad?

  76. These felons would be in jail tonight if they linked the security cameras to the local police departments. Crimes like this would be a thing of the past. Couple this with facial recognition technology and these guys are doing 10-20 in state prison. What's not to like? Oh, wait the "woke" crowd says it's too intrusive, too Orwellian. Not for me. I just want the crime problem in my city addressed. Does anyone in their right mind think the status quo vague descriptions of suspects by eyewitnesses is better? ("White male, late 50s, brown hair, wearing jeans hauling a 300-pound atm-- be on the lookout" or "black teen, dark complexion, wearing a hoodie hauling a 300-pound atm -- be on the lookout.") The irony is academics, criminal justice skeptics and yes leftist fanatics have written, debated, and screamed ad nauseam about flaws in eye-witness testimony. Yet now an A.I. solution is deemed "problematic." Really? Worst case scenario facial recognition systems have succeeded in partly automating what human witnesses do. These mechanized comparison systems exhibit occasional errors. But guess what? People, whose testimony is well known to be unreliable, and it is not clear that it's any better than the dreaded machines. The point is that facial recognition is as likely or more to be accurate as traditional methods based on human identification that have been used for centuries to finger criminal suspects. These bozos should be behind bars. We can do better than this. Can't we?

  77. @Bill Brown As you see in the photos, they cover their faces. So, facial recognition is out.