Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Additional Resources

U.S. Government - H.R. 3662 - The ATM Consumer Protection Act (2002)

Illinois - 205 ILCS 695 - The Automated Teller Machine Security Act (1996)

Los Angeles Police Department - "ATM Crime Prevention"

Guerette, R. T. and R. V. Clarke (2003) "Product Life Cycles and Crime: Automated Teller Machines and Robbery." Security Journal16(1):7-18.

This article presents the history of automated teller machines (ATMs) in the U.S. and case studies that illustrate the effectiveness of legislation establishing security standards for ATM facilities. Products attractive to thieves, such as cars and VCRs, are said to go through a life cycle of vulnerability such that risks are highest when the products are heavily in demand among consumers but before security measures have been retrofitted. Specifically, it is suggested that this life-cycle hypothesis might also apply to new modes of service delivery such as automated teller machines (ATMs). Following a brief history of ATMs in the U.S., case studies are presented of the effectiveness of legislation establishing security standards for ATM facilities in New York City and Los Angeles. Overall, substantial decreases in ATM robberies were found without any evidence of displacement. It is recommended, therefore, that industry representatives find a middle ground in terms of security interventions that serve both their interest and that of the government in protecting citizens and maximizing profits.

Merican, S. (1997). "Violence at ATMs: When is the Bank Liable? "Banking Law Journal, Oct.

Holt, T. and J. Spencer (2005)."A little yellow box: The targeting of automatic teller machines as a strategy in reducing street robbery." Crime Prevention and Community Safety, 7(2): 15-28.

This article describes an application of the concept of “personal defensible space” at automatic teller machines (ATMs) in a high-robbery area in Manchester. Specifically, the pilot initiative created a painted zone around 22 ATMs that demarcated the personal space of the person using the ATM; thus, any person who entered this personal space zone uninvited would be invading that space. An evaluation of 3 ATMs was undertaken between December of 2002 and June of 2003. Overall, the application of personal defensible space in the pilot study area had a significant effect on the number of robberies committed at or in close proximity to identified ATMs. As such, the intention to disrupt the offense event and to render the area more hostile to the offender and less troubling for the ATM user appears to have been achieved. However, it is not appropriate to consider the defining of personal space alone as enough to reduce street offenses. In particular, the location of the ATM in close proximity to markets in stolen goods and drugs suggests that a sophisticated analysis of ATM locations and their proximity to these markets, especially those that are used by street robbery offenders, is required. Finally, it is not clear whether such zones should be applied universally, and additional research will be necessary to determine the most effective locations for personal space zones.