Banks take action against ATM thieves latest tactic

Banks in Flanders are taking measures to combat a new tactic uses by thieves hoping to steal the contents of ATM machines. In recent weeks there have been a number of incidents of thieves blowing up ATMs in order to get their hands of the cash inside.

The banking federation Febelfin is looking into how its members’ cash machines can be better protected.

"This is something that hadn’t happened during the past few years. We suspect that our protection measures aren’t effect and this is something we need to look into and make investments where necessary.  

During the past week ATMs were blown up at Kinrooi in Limburg and Buggenhout in East Flanders, probably using gas. The protection system that covers the bank notes in the ATM with dye if an attempt is made to break it open didn’t work in either case. The recent incidents were the first of their kind in Belgium for many years.  

Febelfin’s Karel Van Eetvelt told VRT News that van criminals have found a way to disable the system.

"I suspect that a number of people have concentrated on looking for ways to break into the machines. It is the story of the poacher and the gamekeeper. You protect things well and then the poacher adapts and looks for ways to get in anyway”.

"It is now up to us to improve security and make investments where necessary”.

Mr Van Eetvelt added that the banks had already taken measures but “Apparently this wasn’t enough, so we are going to go further.”   

In addition to the two incidents over past week, there have been two further incidents. Three weeks ago an ATM was blown up in Tielt-Winge. Last October another cash machine suffered the same fate in the Flemish Brabant municipality of Bever.   

An investigation is currently underway to see if the four incidents are linked.