Thieves physically carried away an ATM in rural Bangalore on July 15, 2010. In another incident, a couple of men entered an ATM booth posing as a repairmen, fooled the guard and stole the cash. In a third incident, a group of desperadoes killed a guard and stole ATM cash in Chattisgarh. All these are hard realities.
Hyderabad has its share of ATM woes. It is increasing, though. The night before, marauders made a bid at the ATM machine of Axis Bank in Mehdipatnam. A customer who came in late at night saw the machine tampered and informed the police. That was around 2:10 am. ACP Asifnagar T Nagaraj Kumar whose team came to the scene of crime, made several calls to the concerned bank, but nobody answered. This was the second attempt at the ATM machine within a week.
Despite the growing risk of leaving an ATM unattended or unguarded, most banks have taken no measure for safety. This, some senior bank officials whisper, is because the banks are compelled to provide ATM service free. They would however, not come on record.
A senior banker handling cash in a leading private bank said it is a fact that many banks do not ensure that the ATMs are properly loaded or safeguarded. There are nearly 1,200 to 1,500 ATMs in the twin cities. “There is no proper record of how many remain unguarded. In many cases the close circuit cameras which are mandatory for every ATM are not working. This will prove to be a great obstacle before the police in the event of a robbery at an ATM,” said a bank official who refused to be identified.
A majority of SBH, SBI, and Andhra bank have guards, officials say. But many banks, including a popular private bank leave the machines unguarded. Last week, the Corporation Bank ATM in front of the Jubilee Hills branch remained faulty for three days before anyone mended it.
It is not well known that most banks have outsourced the filling up cash and maintenance of ATMs. However, concerned banks often do not ensure that the outsourced agency take their job seriously and ensure safety. This is to save expenses, it is said. “But,” said R Kumar, a retail chain manager on Jubilee Hills, “this would cause heavy loss to banks and mar their reputation. What’s the use?” Kumar suggests that the ATM service be nominally charged rather than keeping it free so that maintenance expenses could be met from that. “In our country anything free has no value for the public.”
Shaik Hussain, manager of Andhra Bank in Banjara Hills told Postnoon that his bank maintains security for all its ATM machines. “Our customers trust us, so it is our responsibility to see that the machines are well guarded and well kept,” Hussain said.
Additional deputy commissioner of Police (crime) Zaffer Javed told Postnoon that the police are doing what they can but it is difficult if the banks do not maintain their CCTVs in working condition and the machines are not guarded.
About the Author (Author Profile)
I have been working as a crime reporter in Hyderabad for the past 17 years. I was encouraged to be a journalist by my late father. As a journalist I try to do something unique for society, especially the poor who suffer the most.