Hugh Pickens writes:
Nick Summers has an interesting article at Bloomberg about the epidemic of 90 ATM bombings that has hit Britain since 2013. ATM machines are vulnerable because the strongbox inside an ATM has two essential holes: a small slot in front that spits out bills to customers and a big door in back through which employees load reams of cash in large cassettes. "Criminals have learned to see this simple enclosure as a physics problem," writes Summers. "Gas is pumped in, and when it’s detonated, the weakest part—the large hinged door—is forced open. After an ATM blast, thieves force their way into the bank itself, where the now gaping rear of the cash machine is either exposed in the lobby or inside a trivially secured room. Set off with skill, the shock wave leaves the money neatly stacked, sometimes with a whiff of the distinctive acetylene odor of garlic." The rise in gas attacks has created a market opportunity for the companies that construct ATM components. Several manufacturers now make various anti-gas-attack modules: Some absorb shock waves, some detect gas and render it harmless, and some emit sound, fog, or dye to discourage thieves in the act.
As far as anyone knows, there has never been a gas attack on an American ATM. The leading theory points to the country’s primitive ATM cards. Along with Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, and not many other countries, the U.S. doesn’t require its plastic to contain an encryption chip, so stealing cards remains an effective, non-violent way to get at the cash in an ATM. Encryption chip requirements are coming to the U.S. later this year, though. And given the gas raid’s many advantages, it may be only a matter of time until the back of an American ATM comes rocketing off.
A more effective way to deter the thieves is to harden the banks ATM rooms so one cant simply walk in and grab the dough after a blast. Hardening the machines to explosions seems like it would make the thieves pump in more gas or use more powerful explosives to make a bigger boom. That sounds like an arms race. As the article mentioned, gas detectors and ink bombs would be a better alternative. Another idea is a very secure cash door with a smooth front which extends well past the cash slot when closed so there is no gap in which to pry at. The machine should have dye pack bombs inside the cash cartridges that explode when the door is jammed, flammable gas is detected or a sudden hard jolt is detected. So what if some cheap pieces of paper are damaged by ink. Might even be useful for deterring ATM raids after earthquakes. By default the money is damaged.
Well, if you make a bigger bomb, that also increases the risk that you'll burn the money while detonating it or perhaps compromise the structural integrity of the bank building too much.
> perhaps compromise the structural integrity of the bank building too much.
That's not really something the thieves care about.
Having the building fall on their heads while looting it would be something they'd care about for sure.
Maybe design the machine to redirect the blast towards the perpetrators. Then roll all the banknotes up into pointy-tipped cones, so that the thieves get a faceful of high-velocity money-darts.
Now your thinking ...
> A more effective way to deter the thieves is to harden the banks ATM rooms so one cant simply walk in and grab the dough after a blast.
That won't work. There are case of people bombing ATMs to get at the cash from the front. Since the cost to explode the ATM is so low, it doesn't matter if only a small fraction of the cash survives.
Here's an example [abc.net.au]And the humorous video [youtu.be] of the bomber in action.
The article appears to speak of both types of attacks. Blowing out the rear and entering the service room behind the machines is another method.
A more effective way to deter the thieves is to harden the banks ATM rooms so one cant simply walk in and grab the dough after a blast. Hardening the machines to explosions seems like it would make the thieves pump in more gas or use more powerful explosives to make a bigger boom. That sounds like an arms race.
Why not just ventilate the room? Seriously. This gas attack is predicated on the idea of building up a sufficient quantity of gas in the room so as to ignite an explosion. If the room is well-ventilated that would pretty well thwart such a gas attack. Or, so it would seem to me.
My idea too. A pressure vent, located on the inside of the building, that opens at a pressure a bit above normal atmospheric pressure, e.g. 150kPa. Should be an easy operation.
I believe the blast is to blow the back of the ATM itself open, not the room it is located in. Perhaps the blast accomplishes both.
Something along the lines of a burst disc placed in the roof would pop and vent the pressure wave.
You don't have to make the ATM impossible to rob, just more trouble than it's worth.
Like the joke about the two guys running from the bear. "I don't have to outrun the bear; I just have to outrun you." They'll find some other ATM that isn't as hardened.