ATM Thefts Soared At Least 450% In San Francisco In 2023

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Arjun Singh Contributor
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The number of automated teller machines (ATMs) stolen in San Francisco, California, has risen dramatically in 2023, according to a report by The San Francisco Standard on Tuesday.

ATMs across San Francisco in different locations, such as bars and convenience stores, have been targets for theft. The number of such machines stolen, as opposed to the robbing of persons who have just used an ATM, increased from two thefts in 2022 to 11 thefts from January to November, according to the Standard. (RELATED: Businesses Are Fleeing San Francisco In Droves, Leaving The City Devastated As Crime, Drug Use Runs Wild)

“They didn’t pay attention to anything of lower value…[they] were very clearly professionals,” said Chris Hastings, the owner of an LGBTQ+ bar that was robbed in September, to the Standard. “They don’t want to meet the people. They want to get your stuff and take it away,” said David Burke, a civilian liaison officer with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), to the Standard.

Because ATMs are heavy, with a thick and armored exterior that is often secured to its location using deadbolts, thieves have often engaged in dramatic acts to steal them, such as driving vehicles through shopfronts in order to hoist the ATM out of the store quickly. Most of the burglaries of ATMs happened between the hours of 1:00 A.M. and 5:00 A.M., the Standard reported.

On Dec. 8, for instance, thieves drove a car through the roll-down gates of a CVS pharmacy in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond neighborhood, the Standard reported, which followed another CVS-based robbery in the Twin Peaks neighborhood. Thieves have also stolen ATMs from liquor stores in the city’s other neighborhoods, such as one in Lower Haight, and a bar, Clooney’s, in Valencia.

The theft of ATMs has attracted the attention of Congress, with two lawmakers — Democratic Rep. Glenn Ivey of Maryland and Republican Rep. John Rose of Tennessee — introducing the “Safe Access to Cash Act” in the 118th Congress, which would make ATM theft a federal crime, punishable by 20 years of imprisonment. “We’re all very hopeful that it will get attention and get passed if not this year, next year’s session,” said David Tente, the executive director of the ATM Industry Association, to the Standard.

San Francisco has received significant attention due to the increase in crime in its jurisdiction. Many businesses have fled the city citing the matter, with several retailers supporting a new statewide- ballot initiative that would increase the penalties for property and drug crimes in order to prevent repeat offenses.

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