Monday 27 September 2021

Criminals set their sights on ATMs

Two ATM's were hit in a week for a haul of ¢92 million colones in Limon and Puntarenas

Paying the bills

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Taking advantage of few people out and desolate streets, criminals set their sights on ATMs, even to obstruct roads with sticks just in case and puncture tires of police cars that could give chase.

This was the case last week in Bananito, Limón where ¢61 million colones was stolen, and in El Roble, Puntarenas, another gang got away with ¢30 million, both from ATMs.

The two attacks raised concerns of the financial sector.

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“The event that happened in the Atlantic zone is worrying because when the roads were desolate, the criminals even put logs in the streets and metal pieces to puncture the tires of police and security company vehicles in response,” explained Rodney Segura, security advisor to the Costa Rican Banking Association (ABC),

Segura explained that financial institutions have invested resources in the protection of branches, as well as ATMs, but have been affected by specialized criminal groups.

The specialist recalled that this “modus operandi” is not new in the country and is linked to a band that has been operating in the country for more than 15 years. However, the group was divided and now multiple businesses are affected by robberies under this modality.

“It is no longer the gang, but are cells that began to work independently, so it is striking … curiously, there were 2 ATMs in the same week, but they can hit anywhere in the country,” he added.

Segura explained that these criminals have perfected the technique and only require a few minutes to violate ATMs that have cameras and alarms.

In the Limón attack on April 30, the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) reported that the gang of 6 attacked used acetylene torches to crack the ATMs with acetylene and stole ¢ 61 million colones.

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According to the Fuerza Publica (national police) report, the call was received at about 3:05 am. Within minutes the criminals were able to open the ATM and remove the boxes with the money and fled the scene.

In Puntarenas, on April 28, at least 4 assailants completely destroyed the ATM inside the  Maxi Palí supermarket and took ¢31 million in El Roble de Puntarenas.

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