Criminals who rig cash machines to steal money will be ‘investigated thoroughly’ and face lengthy prison sentences, according to Gloucestershire Police.
There has been a spate of incidents in recent weeks with devices which can be bought on eBay being used to trap cards or money and record people entering their PIN numbers. Several hundred pounds have been stolen from some victims.
A device attached to the card slot of a supermarket cash machine was discovered in Up Hatherley, Cheltenham on Monday July 28 while a strip of metal was found concealed next to the card slot of an ATM at another supermarket in Honeybourne Way on Saturday August 2.
In July, Police found a device fixed to a machine at a bank in Bristol Road in Gloucester, and a hidden camera was discovered over a supermarket cash machine in Chalford, Stroud.
DC Annabel Brittain said: “The message for people using cash points is to always check them carefully before using them, and cover your PIN whether you are suspicious or not.
“It’s possible that these criminals may see it as an easy way to make money, but it’s not worth the risk because many people doing this have been caught and sent to prison.”
Last month a man admitted using a card trapping device to steal money in Bath Road in Cheltenham and recorded the pin numbers of customers to steal money. Remus Campeanu, 32, from Coventry, will be sentenced on August 22.
In July last year three cash machine scammers from Romania were jailed for ripping off Hucclecote Santander branch.
The two most common ways that thieves target cash machine users are by using devices which either trap cards and record PIN numbers with cameras above the keypad, or those that trap cash before its dispensed.
Police are advising people to call their banks straight away if their card is swallowed or cash isn’t dispensed.
DC Brittain said: “It’s important that people report cash machines, that look suspicious, to us. They may notice some plastic come off from the cash or card dispenser or a camera above the keypad. All these reports will be investigated thoroughly.
“This is not a victimless crime. It can be very distressing especially for older people as it can be a shock for them.
“But I wouldn’t say that there is an epidemic of these crimes and cash machines are generally a safe way to withdraw money.