ATM Robbers Use A Backhoe — What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Attempting to rob an ATM machine with a backhoe — what could possibly go wrong?

Robberies of banks have been on the decline for the past few decades, while at the same time, robberies of ATMs — Automatic Teller Machines — have been on the rise. Of course, with the rise of ATM thefts, the ways in which the robbers go about trying to obtain the money has diversified as well.

Case in point: on Friday night, two thieves backed up a backhoe to an ATM at the CenterState Bank in Winter Haven, Florida. The two men, Francisco Hernandez, 53, and Jesus Antonio Sanchez, 50, attempted to use the backhoe to rip the entire ATM from the exterior bank wall. According to reports, surveillance footage shows that the two men successfully ripped the ATM from the bank building.

Where did Sanchez and Hernandez get the backhoe? According to police, the two men stole the backhoe from a nearby construction site and drove it through a field to the CenterState Bank.

After ripping the ATM from the bank wall, Hernandez and Sanchez used the backhoe to place the ATM on a flatbed truck.

The bank alarm sounded around 11 p.m. on Friday evening. Polk County Police were dispatched. According to WFTV, a Polk County Sheriff’s deputy spotted what he termed a “suspicious” Ford flatbed just after midnight, and pulled it over. The truck was seized, and the ATM in the back was identified by the bank manager as the one stolen earlier that night.

The two men driving the truck containing the ATM vehemently denied stealing it. The two men said that they were out collecting scrap metal and “couldn’t remember” where they’d found the ATM machine.

Hernandez had a pending arrest warrant for violating his probation. Sanchez was also on probation at the time of the crime for a previous grand theft robbery. Police said that none of the money inside the ATM was successfully removed by the criminals.

Most crimes involving ATMs certainly don’t involve stealing the entire machine. One technique, that was used extensively in India up until last year, was called the “exit shutter manipulation.” The way it worked was fairly simple. A criminal went to an ATM, inserted their bank card, and requested money from an actual account. When the money was being dispensed, a “shutter sound” could be heard. The criminal places their hand against the exit shutter at the exact right moment, and the ATM machine thinks that there’s been a malfunction. The internal computer records that no money has been removed from the account. However, the criminal actually has his hands on the previously dispensed cash. He forces the ATM shutter open, and pulls out the money.

Banks in India figured out this ATM scam in late 2014 and instituted new performance controls on their ATMs to stop it.

[Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images]