Investigation reveals dangerous ATM robberies - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Investigation reveals dangerous ATM robberies

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The Action News Five Investigators combed through stacks of police reports detailing when and where Mid-Southerners came face to face with a gun while trying to make a withdrawal. The Action News Five Investigators combed through stacks of police reports detailing when and where Mid-Southerners came face to face with a gun while trying to make a withdrawal.
The Investigators reviewed 135 reports of people being robbed, shot, or killed at Memphis ATMs between the start of 2008 and mid-September 2013. The Investigators reviewed 135 reports of people being robbed, shot, or killed at Memphis ATMs between the start of 2008 and mid-September 2013.
Roneccia Luster was murdered while using an ATM on South Perkins in October of last year. Roneccia Luster was murdered while using an ATM on South Perkins in October of last year.
Southeast Memphis had the most ATM attacks, with 40 reported at 23 locations. Ervin Gates was one of the victims. Southeast Memphis had the most ATM attacks, with 40 reported at 23 locations. Ervin Gates was one of the victims.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A gun is pulled on at least one Automated Teller Machine customer every other week in Memphis.

The Action News Five Investigators combed through stacks of police reports detailing when and where Mid-Southerners came face to face with a gun while trying to make a withdrawal. The Investigators reviewed 135 reports of people being robbed, shot, or killed at Memphis ATMs between the start of 2008 and mid-September 2013.

Betty Buckley's daughter Roneccia Luster was murdered while using an ATM on South Perkins in October of last year.

"This is a society that we're getting into now where everybody has to watch everything that you do," she said. "I think of her every day."

James Holmes, 19, was indicted on charges he pointed a gun through Luster's open passenger window and shot her when she tried to drive away.

"It was such a senseless act because she never made a withdrawal," said Buckley.

Using a simple spread sheet and mapping program, the Investigators zeroed in on three ATM robbery hot spots. On our radar: the Raleigh-Frayser area with 30 incidents at 15 different ATMs.

Nine incidents were reported at the Regions Bank on 2595 Frayser Boulevard, where chilling video shows a night two armed men approached customer Jeff Goodrum

The thieves threatened to shoot him in the face if he did not withdraw $400 dollars and hand it over.

There were five robberies at the free standing Regions ATM at 3360 N. Watkins and seven at the First Tennessee Bank just down the street.

Private Security Consultant Marti Miller says security risks are easy to spot if you know what to look for.

"There's plenty of places to hide," he said. "If somebody is laying down in that ramp and it's night time you're not going to see them."

Southeast Memphis had the most ATM attacks, with 40 reported at 23 locations. Ervin Gates was one of the victims.

"Next thing I hear is don't move ... And the pistol ... I could feel it right here on my head," he said.

Gates thinks the man who tried to rob him at an ATM on South Mendenhall was hiding behind a dumpster.

"I just needed to do that transaction that night and I decided to stop here and that was the worst stop I could have made," said Gates.

Before Gates could get away two shots were fired. The bullets miss him but hit his car.

Police in Southeast Memphis have responded to six ATM robberies at the Bank of America at 3741 Winchester.

They also responded to reports at Regions Bank on 3545 Kirby Parkway, Regions on 3751 Lamar Avenue, the Bank of America on 6456 East Shelby Drive, and this Bank of America at 6725 Winchester at Ross Road.

When it comes to making things safer, a state lawmaker from Cordova says what he learned from the investigation could force change state wide. States like Texas and Illinois have an ATM User Safety Act that requires banks to keep their ATMs well lit and landscaped for increased security. There is no such law in the Mid-South.

"This is obviously a consumer safety issue but nothing has come down the pike in our state," said Tennessee representative Steve McManus (R) of Cordova.

McManus chairs the House Insurance and Banking Committee. After seeing just how many Mid-Southerners have been attacked at Memphis ATMs, McManus predicts the legislature will consider holding banks accountable for the safety of their ATM customers.

"I wouldn't be surprised if a legislator is out there and is listening to this story and thinks it's a good idea. And the bottom line is it's all about consumer safety," he said.

The Investigators' third hot spot is Whitehaven with 15 ATM robberies at 11 locations.

Two each were reported at the First Tennessee bank at Winbrook Drive and East Brooks Road, one at the Bank of America on 1725 East Brooks Road, the Southern Security Credit Union on 1720 East Holmes Road, and three attacks at the First Tennessee on 2284 Lamar.

Miller says skip the traditional ATM and go to supermarkets and drug stores that offer cash back with a purchase.

More importantly never assume the ATM you are most familiar with is the safest.

Buckley's daughter delivered mail in the neighborhood where she was killed.

"She felt safe and when you go to the same place and you do it over and over again there is a sense of safety there is a sense of comfort," said Buckley.

A false sense of comfort that could cost you your money or your life.

Just because your ATM is located in one of the hot spots does not mean it is crime free. For more uncovered incidents all over the city, even some at ATMs inside gas stations, click on this interactive map here.

Read below for more tips to avoid being a victim of crime at an ATM:

  • Try to bring someone with you and check your surroundings, make sure it is well lit
  • Then make sure all the other windows are up and your doors are locked
  • Keep your foot on the brake and your car in drive so you can floor it if you have to
  • See more in this safety video extra with Marti Miller here.

None of the banks mentioned in this Action News 5 Investigation agreed to an on-camera interview, but a spokesperson for each said they all care about customer safety and security is their top priority.

Read statements from the banks from clicking on one of the following links:

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved  

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