Blowing Up ATMs

In the Netherlands, criminals are stealing money from ATMs by blowing them up (article in Dutch). First, they drill a hole in an ATM and fill it with some sort of gas. Then, they ignite the gas—from a safe distance—and clean up the money that flies all over the place after the ATM explodes.

Sounds crazy, but apparently there has been an increase in this type of attack recently. The banks’ countermeasure is to install air vents so that gas can’t build up inside the ATMs.

Posted on March 10, 2006 at 12:26 PM59 Comments


erasmus March 10, 2006 12:51 PM

Cue Micheal Caine in The Italian Job: “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”

A few years ago a local ATM machine was ‘stolen’ by thieves using a fork lift truck.
Since then the banks have given up the practice of setting them into glass walls.

Phillip March 10, 2006 1:56 PM

The banks’ countermeasure is to install air vents so that gas can’t build up inside the ATMs.

Won’t stop them from filling them with a solid explosive.

Prohias March 10, 2006 3:07 PM

In India, a guard from a security company is posted to sit by an ATM machine. The benefits of cheaper labor go well beyond outsourcing!

Steve March 10, 2006 3:42 PM

Gang, it’s ATM or Automatic Teller Machine. “ATM machine” is redundant.

Yes, I am an annoying little pedant, why do you ask?

greg March 10, 2006 4:08 PM

It would not be too hard to make a safe hard enough to not rupture with a gas/air explosive. But solid explasive are much harder to defend agaist.

Soild explosives come in (approx) 2 types. High speed and low speed. Most home brew explosives are slow to medium, which is not so good at cutting hardend steel etc. You need nice high speed (can’t remeber the numbers but like 5+km/s) shape charges. Despite what the movies say. It is easier to steal money than get your hands on that much RDX. So defending agaist high end eplosives is perhaps not really nessasary. They are so much harder to do than plain gas/air!

Homebrew fast explosive are generally very very unsable and also require quite a lot of industrial strength acids (HNO3 and H2SO4 +50% for both). It maybe just easier to use the acid. It would be safer to charge into a bank with a realisic looking gun and hope that nobody shoots you.

Rob Mayfield March 10, 2006 4:10 PM

@Steve – “ATM Machine” is the machine that makes ATM’s. It takes a much bigger card (4 metres by 1.5 metres) and the pin number is 1024 digits long …

Kees March 10, 2006 4:44 PM

Dutch banks are now also considering using ink cartridges to spoil the bank notes when the ATM is blown up.

David Donahue March 10, 2006 5:04 PM


I think that it a good idea to enclose the bill storage rack with indelible ink bags that ruin the bills when explosives go off. It has no effect on use, protects against a known threat, is inexpensive to implement and costs nothing to maintain.

Its especially useful for the backs, since if one gets accidentially ruptured, they can generally have the bills replaced by the government since they can prove possession and proper ownership (in the US at least).

Ed March 10, 2006 5:30 PM

I wouldn’t put air vents in the ATM – I’d add a little spark plug sparking every 30 seconds or so.

Nobby Nuts March 10, 2006 5:57 PM

Article in Dutch, another in Danish, others in Hebrew, just how many languages does our Bruce speak?

PiP March 10, 2006 10:11 PM

Many ATM’s store their bills inside extremely flammable “wrappers” to prevent any sort of attack involving explosives. In theory, any explosion or heat (i.e. friction from drilling) will instantly burn all the cash inside. Apparently they’re so sensitive that a static discharge from the person loading cash into the machine is enough to burn up the bills.

I’m trying to find a URL that mentions this.

nbk2000 March 11, 2006 2:24 AM

In the CD edition of “Locks, Safes, and Security”, by Marc Weber Tobias (comes with the paper edition:

He shows how hydralic overpressure can demolish a safe without damaging the contents, using actual crime scene and police test photos.

The safe is filled with water, a small charge of high-explosive is placed in, and detonated. The incompressible water is displaced by the million+ PSI overpressure of the explosion, and causes the safe to rupture.

The water protects the contents from getting burnt by the heat of the explosion (obviously).

This is shown in the movie “The Score”, with Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton

Even shows the use of an exothermic cutting torch (AKA ‘Thermal Lance) to cut the hole in the safe to get the water in it in the first place.

I think the “gas” part is disinformation by the banks to the media, as no fuel/air explosive is going to cause an ATM safe to open up, assuming it’s an approved UL listed TL-15 or better.

Not enough internal volume to allow enough gas to cause the overpressure needed to shear the welds/locking bolts.

And it would incinerate the contents. :p

krist March 11, 2006 10:44 AM

This has also happend to a bank near me in June last year (I live in northern Germany, NL is 4 hours away). One of those thieves was wearing a Scream movie mask when he was spraying black color to the surveillance camera. The explosion was way too heavy, causing big damage to the building and the money as well. Nonetheless they escaped with 10k Euros. Here’s an article from the local newspaper (in German):

They came back to the same bank in September, this time the explosion was better dosed. IIRC they got caught at the beginning of the year.

Anonymous March 11, 2006 10:21 PM



One hole will suffice as long as it’s not hermetically sealed.

Air, being far less dense than water, as well as being compressible, will flow through even minute openings, especially when being displaced by a large volume of incompressible water under high pressure, such as come out of a fire-suppression pipe.

The link below is for some pictures showing the actual use of water and explosives by criminals, as well as audio commentary by the examing expert. (~900Kb)

Since it’s not possible to use a gas to explode a safe, perhaps what they are referring to is the use of a gas explosion to open up the enclosure in which the safe is in, in order to get access to it?

Even better would be pictures of such an attack. Are there any such pictures showing the aftermath of such a ‘gas’ explosion? Torn safe walls, burnt money, etc?

Because if there isn’t, then I’d call it dis/mis-information. Remember, just because it’s reported by the media, doesn’t mean it’s reported correctly.

Filias Cupio March 12, 2006 7:32 PM

The air-vent countermeasure doesn’t make sense to me – it reduces the problem from “drill a hole and fill with gas” to “block all but the most convenient hole and fill with gas”. This is assuming the vents are just to prevent filling with gas, rather than venting the power of the explosion.

That brings up an interesting thought – fuse vents (I just made up that term.) These would be weak points designed to blow out at lower pressure than would open the door, but not to allow access to the safe interior once blown. I’m not sure whether this is feasable however, especially without adversely affecting other aspects of security.

(Note that something like these “fuse vents” already exist in aviation. If the cargo hold of an airliner (specifically the DC-10, I’m not certain about others) explosively decompresses, vents in the floor will blow out so that the cabin decompresses also. This prevents the floor from deforming due to pressure differential. This was adopted after the “Windsor Incident” in 1972 and then the Turkish Airlines Flight 981 crash in 1974.)

Peter March 12, 2006 8:33 PM

Or to adapt the “fuse vent” idea what about a compressible item such as a ball or biscuit tin inside the safe ?

Together with an alarm to prevent multiple attempts on the same safe anything that reduced the effectiveness of one attack should be helpful.

Filias Cupio March 12, 2006 10:07 PM

A more formalized version of the biscuit* tin would be to make the safe twice as big as you need, then put in an internal airtight wall blocking off half (that’s your biscuit tin.) The internal wall is weaker than the door, of course. This is the fuse vent, but with an enclosed space to vent into instead of external – which should be much more secure. It also seems like it should defeat the fill-with-water method described above. (I’ve assumed a 1:1 ratio between the safe space and the vent space, but presumably engineering analysis would find a different optimal ratio.)

Two counterattacks occur to me: drill two holes, so you can fill both chambers, or just drill one hole and perform the explosion twice.

I’ve heard that good safes have mechanisms whereby they lock shut (won’t open to combination anymore) if certain physical attacks occur – e.g. the opening mechanism depends on a meltable plastic part, so too much heat disables it. Blowing the internal wall should be one of the things that disables the opening mechanism.

  • BTW, does your reference to “biscuit tin” mean you come from the English speaking world (as opposed to American), or do Americans commonly store scones in tins?

Roger March 12, 2006 11:09 PM

@Anonymous, krunch:
The point being made on the movie physics site was not that the attack wouldn’t work at all, but that it would have taken much longer than depicted. In the movie, the attacker took only 15 minutes to fill a safe with an internal capacity of close to 1,000 litres, using a very narrow bore pipe, and with no air outlet so it had to contend with back pressure. With a pipe of the same diameter but still no back pressure, the movie physics guys got a flow of eight litres per minute, so it would have taken at least 125 minutes, or over 2 hours. While back pressure might have escaped in various ways, it would have increased the time even further.

Something they don’t point out is that the back pressure gets you two ways: if the safe is hermetically sealed, the back pressure will soon build up to the point where it seriously restricts the inflow of water. On the other hand, if the safe is not airtight some of the water will be leaking out while you try to fill it. Most likely you will fall between two stools: the safe will be sufficiently close fitting for some pressure to build up and slow down the inflow without stopping it, but this increased pressure will also cause water to exit through the leaks even faster! In fact, if all the leaks are at the bottom so only liquid can escape, eventually it will reach an equilibrium state where water escapes exactly as fast as it is added.

the question of whether you could blow open a safe by an internal gas explosion is not hard to answer. Assume you have the inside of the safe completely filled with a mixture of a fuel gas and oxygen. Upon ignition, the temperature will (very briefly) reach an elevated high temperature, and then will cool (largely adiabatically) as it expands. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that peak temperature is 3,000°C (although it could be somewhat higher with some fuel gases and perfect oxygenation). Then from Guy-Lussac’s gas law we can estimate the pressure inside the safe as (3000 + 273)/(20 + 273) atmospheres, or 11.2 atmospheres (164 psi). ATM safes sizes vary, but the closest one I could get a look seemed to have a door size of 460 mm x 850 mm, more or less. Therefore the initial force on the door will be about 443 kN (99,400 lbf), or about 45 tonnes force. It seems quite likely that this is enough force to significantly deform the safe. Note that this force is felt by all internal faces simultaneously, so for example the sides will tend to bulge outward (and thus tend to release the door bolts) as well as the door being pushed outward directly. Note also the ATM safes (at the least the one I just examined) are not actually all that thick walled (appears to be only about 5 mm of steel). By the time all walls have expanded 25 mm away from their initial position (which I wildly guess is enough to release the door and allow it to accelerate freely), the internal volume will have increased from about 0.18 m^3 to 0.21 m^3, so assuming adiabatic expansion and complex combustion products, the pressure will only have dropped by 17%, and the force on the door is still about 38 tonnes.

In short, a simple gas explosion inside an ATM safe is certainly capable of tearing the safe to pieces.

As for counter-measures, many possibilities are obvious, but here is the best one to strike me: fill all unoccupied parts of the interior with blocks of an elastic closed-cell foam. This will occupy volume in the safe and prevent more than a very small amount of fuel gas being admitted. When the ignition occurs, the foam will rapidly collapse with very little resistance, causing the pressure to drop very rapidly, before damage is done to the door. Also, depending on the material used, some of the foam may melt and mark the cash with globs of coloured molten plastic, thus ruining it even if the safe does open.

This has some similarities to the proposed empty chambers, and also other space-filling, very soft materials might be used, but a closed cell foam has several advantages. Inflated plastic bags, thin-walled boxes or other hollow objects could be easily punctured by the attacker through the drill hole, and thus rendered useless. Open cell foams would delay the admission of the fuel gas, but not prevent it. An inelastic foam would prevent one attack, but would then be crushed and allow the attacker to try again; and elastic foam would probably take many attacks to collapse completely. By that time the cash would be ruined, even assuming the police had not yet arrived.

Finally, the elastic foam would be very simple and inexpensive to retrofit to existing ATMs. Once the best shapes have been determined, a kit of suitable shapes can be mass produced, taken to each ATM when it is being refilled, and simply slipped into place. The procedure would be much cheaper and quicker than fitting vent holes or new hollow sections or the like.

Victor Bogado March 13, 2006 11:04 AM

If you rig the ATM to burn the cash or in some other way taint the money beyond use wouldn’t it all be lost anyway? I mean, for instance, supose that the burglar explode the machine, all the money is burned the machine it self is rended useless.

Also this could be a weak point of the setup, a terrorist organization could make a bank loose millions of dollars or creat havock by heating ATMs all over. Movie plot I know, but this don’t make much sense to introduce weak links on the security on purpose.

Mike Sherwood March 13, 2006 1:05 PM

@Victor Bogado

There are dye packs that are used for traditional bank robberies. This marks the money (and hopefully the suspect) in a way that any bank getting that money is going to report it to the authorities. There is no reason why dye couldn’t be used to thwart ATM robberies as well.

I’m sure the bank would have no problem getting the money replaced if there was an attempt that marked a batch of cash. As long as they have a police report to back up their claim, there’s no loss except the inconvenience of replacing the money.

On the other hand, if I were to try to deposit dyed cash into my bank, someone would want to know where I got it. If cash were getting marked by accident or a freak failure of a particular ATM, I could explain where I got the bills. Unless I had hundreds of suspiciously marked bills, it would be a short investigation.

hotshot March 13, 2006 9:58 PM

suppose you skipped the fancy gases and just dropped in a quarter stick of dynamite? this would take maybe a 1 1/4″ hole. if a good bit of an atm is just an empty box, drilling the hole in the right place would make this easy. of course you wouldn’t actually “drill” it, maybe a small shaped charge to punch the hole then the blast. maybe if the shaped charge punched the hole in the right place it could take out the countermeasures at the same time. it would be helpful to have an insider that knew about the atm’s guts.

Anonymous March 14, 2006 4:43 AM

According to the German wikipedia, you’re supposed to seal all openings with silicon before filling the ATM with gas. I don’t know where the air vents are directed, but if they’re accessible, they’ll just save the the thieves the drilling work…

greg March 14, 2006 1:53 PM

The holes, depending on there size will make a huge difference. Filling them with silicon will not stop the burning gas getting out. Without a pressure the deflagration will not move to detonation, and the gas will vent rapidly from the holes, sillicon or no sillicon.

nada March 14, 2006 5:02 PM

I prefer the Automatic ATM Machines. They’re much easier to use. And have a higher rate of fire.


rE March 14, 2006 5:07 PM

“indelible ink bags” “costs nothing to maintain”.

Wrong. Ever run an inkjet printer? There is a good reason why these are sold as ‘home’ or ‘consumer’ (read ‘sucka’) items.

Ink is volatile and degrades quickly under environmental stress. Replacing leaky bags is dangerous, and leaking bags ruining your nice shiny money$$$ is annoying.

But perhaps there are dyes that are not as volatile and come prepackaged. But you still need to validate and replace at periodic intervals. ie, there is significant overhead, not ‘none at all’.


ventGuy March 14, 2006 10:28 PM

I would assume the vents would be on the inside of the wall rather than accessible to outside.

That way they prevent explosion but don’t offer any extra vunerability to external attacks. I assume that most of these attacks try not to breach the building before the atm as would reduce the time to collect cash before cops arrive, by setting of alarms.

nbk2000 March 15, 2006 12:12 AM


I’m not ‘Anonymous’, I’m nbk2000. Please use my name. Google it, even. 🙂



“Crosslays…have a diameter of 1.5 inches and can gush water at 95 gallons (360 L) per minute.”


“…versus 150 gallons per minute for the 1.5 inches (hose).”

Since the hose that the DeNiro character used was attached to a high-pressure/high-volume fire sprinkler pipe, it’d be quite possible to fill up a 1,000L volume in just a couple of minutes, using a hose of the size used in the movie.

Especially since the safe wouldn’t be empty, but partially filled with objects and comparments.

And the air would flow out as fast as the water went in, as the hose wasn’t hermetically sealed to the safe, as the water gushing out around the nozzle at the end showed.

I feel kinda silly arguing over a movie depiction of an actual technique, but’s it’s the only source most people would have to refer to.

Also, ATM’s are not hermetically sealed. Nor is there a lot of empty space inside. So there’d be neither much volume for a gas/air mixture inside, nor a lot of resistance to the pressure buildup. As the gas mixture was burning, it would expand (as mentioned), but it’d flow out of existing orfices at a rate increase proportional to the pressure buildup.

The faster the pressure rises, the faster the remaining (unburnt) gas mix will flow out the openings.

Show me pictures of the aftermath of one of these attacks and I’ll know if there was indeed a fuel-air explosion. But I’ve not been able to find PICTURES of such a thing, only articles saying that such a thing was used.

Who writes these articles? Journalists.

Do journalists know jacksh*t about explosives and their applications? I’d say over 99.9% of them don’t. And the vast majority of police are equally ignorant of the topic.

So if they say “Gas was used to blow up the ATM”, that doesn’t mean that they’re right.

It could be that they are getting it right, but I’m confident that they’re not, especially with no photos to show evidence to the contrary.

If anyone DOES have a link to photos from such an attack, please provide it, as that’d do much to clarifying the question.

Roger March 15, 2006 9:56 AM


I’m not ‘Anonymous’, I’m nbk2000. Please use my name.
Fine. You signed anonymous, and I didn’t see you later correction.

“Crosslays…have a diameter of 1.5 inches and can gush water at 95 gallons (360 L) per minute.”

I haven’t seen the film recently to recall if their description is correct, but the movie physics fellows describe the hose as being “garden hose sized”. The typical garden hose is 0.5 inches in diameter. Under most practical circumstances the resistance to flow offered by a pipe is inversely proportional to the fourth power of diameter. As such, if the same pressure head that produced 360 L per minute through a 1.5 inch pipe, is put through a 0.5 inch pipe otherwise identical, the flow will be 360 * (0.5/1.5)^4 = 4.4 L per minute, which is fairly close to what the movie physics guys actually measured (8 L per minute), and far too slow to fill the safe in the time shown. This was the only quibble they had; no-one is saying the basic idea doesn’t work, only that they filled the safe far too quickly, with the method depicted on the movie. (It is more complicated than this, actually; the total flow is equal to the total head divided by the sum of all resistances, which are individually equal to pipe length divided by the fourth power of diameter, but so long as the main trunks have much greater diameter their contribution may be relatively negligible.)

I feel kinda silly arguing over a movie depiction of an actual technique, but’s it’s the only source most people would have to refer to.

Yep. ‘Nuff said.

Also, ATM’s are not hermetically sealed.

That doesn’t really matter. Just that the less well sealed they are, the faster the inflow rate needs to be in order to achieve a given internal gas concentration. If they are too leaky and thus causing really excessive wastage of gas, or perhaps excessive fire risk outside, then you can just plug up the worse leaks with something.

Nor is there a lot of empty space inside.

I don’t think this is really true. It’s true that there isn’t much room to swing a cat, but most of the bits inside are themselves full of voids.

So there’d be neither much volume for a gas/air mixture inside, nor a lot of resistance to the pressure buildup.
As the gas mixture was burning, it would expand (as mentioned), but it’d flow out of existing orfices at a rate increase proportional to the pressure buildup.

Yes, and it is doing work on the walls and door at the same time. The question is, can it deform those far enough to slip the bolts before the pressure drops too low through various agencies (adiabatic expansion, leakage through apertures, leakage around the doorframe as the door deforms)? To actually work this out in detail would require incredibly detailed modeling of the gas flow rates through all the various apertures whilst simultaneously doing a finite element analysis of the door deforming. (Or, as a former physics prof of mine liked to say, “or we could just do the experiment” 8^)

Until I get around to doing the experiment, I note that the door will be initially accelerating at about 20 to 30 km s^-2, so it will take approximately 1 millisecond to reach the 25 mm mark (my rough guestimate of when the bolts will be slipped). Had the gas been expanding unrestricted, it would have only gone about 10 times as far. Very handwavy I know, but enough to strongly suggest to me that leakage through small cracks is not going to be significant.

Do journalists know jacksh*t about explosives and their applications?
So if they say “Gas was used to blow up the ATM”, that doesn’t mean that they’re right.

But that isn’t what they said. They said that Dutch banks are installing gas vent grilles somewhere on their ATMs, and the Dutch banks say that this is because of attacks involving gas explosions used to open ATMs. Could be the banks are lying, of course.

safe_&_vault_techie March 15, 2006 3:33 PM


the dye units designed for ATMs last a very long time; they are a little like airbags in that an explosive charge is used to deploy them; which is also very long lasting. They may be detonated in a number of ways, generally electronically in response to a positive reading on a seismic sensor designed to prevent drilling. More expensive, through-the-wall type ATMs also use a mechanism called “relockers” which are spring loaded steel bolts. Relockers prevent the safe opening if a piece of spring-tensioned glass is pierced by any physical intrusion. It is traditional in locksmithing circles not to disclose any of this information outside the industry 😉 the safe and vault industry is security-by-obscurity at its best.

Even many of the most expensive electronic safe locking systems have their weaknesses, or outright holes; which I have always found unbeleivable.

When you get a little creative with other methods of opening, the possiblities are endless. For example: what happens if you use a cutting laser, sitting on the back of a truck parked outside, delivered to the safe door via industrial fibre optic cable? This would allow you to silently and quickly drill a hole through the safe, the lock, and the glass all without disturbing any seismic sensors or breaking the glass. With accurate knowledge of the design of the safe, a 3mm hole can allow some safes to be opened normally.

Even with a standard diamond-tungsten drill bit, a safe can in theory be carefully drilled just up to the glass, then the internal door cavity filled with expanding sticky foam which hardens, as used in the construction industry. This will disable the glass from moving even if it is pierced.

Additionally, there are several viable methods of chemical attack. Chemical attack is a little messier and more dangerous, with fumes, and problems of containment (plus damage to the contents of the safe).

And what about safes with vacuum tubes depositing money pouches directly into them? great idea for getting the money from the cash register into the safe quickly and easily, but there’s a ready made hole in the top! The tubes aren’t that strong.

But i think the art and science of opening safes has been somewhat lacking in real advances for a while now.

And as a client in one country’s police force told me, no-one does decent safejobs anymore 🙂

safe_&_vault_techie March 16, 2006 3:57 AM

As for banks installing gas vent grills, that is almost certainly just marketing spin from the security department. To consider retrofitting gas vents on the machines would involve a process something like this:

  • Determine exact make and model of ATM on each site, and obtain diagrams of each physical design (not always readily available).
    • Approach trusted suppliers such as NCR, security suppliers etc; for assistance with design work, and obtain proposals for retrofitting – some ATMs may need to be taken offsite to a factory in order to perform the modification in such a way as to avoid compromising the security of the safe enclosure. If this is not feasible, the work would need to be performed out of hours to avoid disturbing branch customers and drawing unwanted attention. (Machines would need to be emptied of cash first by the cash carrying contractor, to allow access to the inside of the enclosure. Alternatively, a bank manager would be required to watch the entire job without breaks).

    • Go through the commercial pricing exercise (we’re talking big money for a national operation potentially involving thousands of machines), and endless headaches getting budget approved for such an unexpected, expensive reactionary measure

    • Weigh up the real risk and cost of gas-based explosive attacks, vs the expense and hassle of awarding a contract, emptying the machines of cash, modifying all the machines with the associated disruptions, and filling them with cash again.

    • Eventually decide to just tell the media that the modifications have been performed, in order to discourage such attcaks at no expense whatsoever.

Chris Shiherlis September 22, 2006 8:03 AM

I’ve always been interested in techniques for getting to the money (in ATM’s or anywhere else). So when I heared about criminals blowing up ATM’s I searched for information. Did they use semtex or some solid explosive? The information I found was not clear about that. But then I saw some pictures of such an attack in Germany. And guess what, there had been an explosion alright, but a very strange and clean one. The place was a mess but nothing was burned or really shattered, even the safe was just bended out of shape. So you could tell they didn’t use semtex or the like attached to the outside of the safe.
And when I looked to the picture closer I could see, hoses and gascillindres, like they use in welding.
Anyway, to make a long story short: the safes are blown up after filled with explosive (welding) gasses (acetylene/oxygen?). Despite the normal misinformation and the ignorant journalist, this time the information is right.

By the way, how are you doing NBK?

Magr December 18, 2006 7:45 PM

Hello, I googled (when are they gonna add “googled” to the dictionary?) ATM and came across this nifty site. Besides blowing the ATM, safe, whaterver, up (or rupturing with the water method) would it be possible to just use a welding (cutting) torch to get to the insides of the ATM? If it is possible to cut open an ATM with a torch, would the bills be serously damaged? I couldent find any cross-sections of ATMs on the web, so I figured I’d ask you guys. The only reason I ask this is b/c I dont like explosives.

genocide February 3, 2007 9:42 AM

They would have used C4 do blow the safe they wouldnt have used symtex
And they wouldnt have used gas to blow the safe either
As when they used C4 the explosion would be amplified by the electricity connected to the safe .
In one of my favourite movies die hard three they broke into the world bank from the basement and used a tunnel digger and drill saws to get into the bank
I reckon it would be easy to use a acid base liquid just to burn a hole in the plastic of the atm and bobs your uncle free cash without disturbing the out side of the safe
As in Australia they use plastic atms and do not have those countermeasures
As people are still using cars to pull them out

Dr_Chemical July 12, 2007 8:33 AM

i have a qeustion, those atm’s are they of steel so yes, why you don’t cut the bolts on the safe door than you also can open the door or not???

JLS August 28, 2007 5:45 PM

I own an ATM and it is made of steel. It does have a plastic front panel, but that’s it. Inside of the plastic cover, there is a UL listed safe. An ATM is not really that difficult to break into, it’s getting into a business where the machine is that’s difficult. I made sure mine was placed in a business with multiple color surviellance cameras (with internet connectivity) and a good burglar alarm system. My machine is continuosly monitored via the internet that let’s me know if the machine is close to empty or in need of other maintenance. If contact with my machine is lost, I know to call the Police and ask the favor of checking the location, for it is on it’s own dedicated line. I guess to make a long story short, it’s easier just to go get a job.

AK August 29, 2007 1:57 AM

South Africa has also gone through a spate of ATM crime, but I believe the guys are using explosives stolen from mines. They slap some of this against the machine and nail it. I must confess I agree with JLS – it’s probably easier to just get a job and a little less risky.

AK August 29, 2007 1:58 AM

South Africa has also gone through a spate of ATM crime, but I believe the guys are using explosives stolen from mines. They slap some of this against the machine and nail it. I must confess I agree with JLS – it’s probably easier to just get a job and a little less risky.

SLiM August 29, 2007 2:00 AM

The headline read: Men Googled ‘how to blow up ATMs’.,22049,22327716-5001028,00.html

The reporter goes on to descibe how several men, euphemistically called ‘of middle-eastern appearance’ here in Oz, had planned to blow up ATM Machines (there I said it) using nitro. Curiously, it seems the police had tapped calls and text messages from when the pre-crime was pre-conspiracy.

Having no bill of rights here in Australia, it’s possible there’s clandestine blanket coverage of some (or all) peoples’ communications and the police can recall conversations and text messages at will. I wonder what sort of storage would be required to record all that data?

What does a paranoid have in common with the all-knowing master of time space and dimension that secretly controls all of our lives?…Right, like you don’t know. 😉

vot October 27, 2007 4:04 PM

most freestanding shop atm’s that are not filed by the store owner, ie. by cash transit security firms use multi point locking system & r 12-15mm thick steel, these house, £15’000 or £30’000 this is down to the security externally, this is judged by insurers rules, the store filled atm’s never hold £2000, r 4mm steel

Licurgo October 12, 2008 10:35 PM

the military tanks have a countermeasure against shape charges, its called reactive armor, its just explosives that neutralize the effect of the metal slug,

i think the ATM just should be treated as a tank, thus minimizing the effects of explosives buying time until the police arrive

the reactive explosive also work against oxygen torches.

Sixbells56 December 25, 2008 1:50 PM

The trick it seems is not so much to be able to access the interior of a stand-alone ATM; a well placed, small C4 shaped charge would do the job nicely. However, modern ATM physical security concentrates on denying the use of the money inside the machine to a thief, by means of techniques such as dye markers and smoke canisters and GPS tracking. How would you beat these systems?

For grins, let’s look at a particular popular ATM, the Tranax Mini-Bank 2500…
Capacity —

1 cassette of 2000 note capacity

CDU options:

* Configurable to hold up to 3 cassettes (2,000 note capacity each).

2000, US$20 notes or US$40,000 (assuming you blow it immediately after it has been restocked to maximum capacity), or in the case of the 3 cassettes option (2,000 note capacity each); US$120,000, nice haul right?
Security —

UL 291 business hour listed safe

Electronic lock

Security options:

* UL291 Level 1 safe
* Cencon 2000 electronic lock

PLUS, the security features NOT mentioned online as noted above including dye markers and smoke canisters and even GPS tracking.
How to beat the ATM(s) exterior is not the issue, it is accessing the cash in the cassettes!

Clive Robinson December 26, 2008 9:00 PM

@ Sixbells56,

“How to beat the ATM(s) exterior is not the issue, it is accessing the cash in the cassettes!”

An observation bassed on seeing one or two ATM’s open in the UK and the assumption that they are all fairly alike (this is possibly not justified but hey we’re just “chewing the fat”)

You make the comment,

“the security features NOT mentioned online as noted above including dye markers and smoke canisters and even GPS tracking.”

Just a thought…

All of the security features you mention do not work below certain tempratures…

From personal observation of a few ATM machines and as others above have commented, ATM’s are not exactly hermeticaly sealed…

Perhaps a closer inspection of the ATM model you mention and the judicious application of a large container of liquid nitrogen might be benificial prior to any of the forcefull access methods mentioned above.

Oh just remember that carbon steel and other metals used in safe construction become quite brittle at very low tempratures so it might actually improve the “gas attack”, but give rise to a fragmentation grenade effect.

But as I said it’s just a thought and I’ll leave it to others to do the theoretical or practical physics on the thought experiment.

alik February 3, 2009 6:26 PM

“@Steve – “ATM Machine” is the machine that makes ATM’s. … and the pin number is 1024 digits long …”

So you’re saying the Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) are themselves numbered and there are at least 10 to the 23rd power of them in total?

Alik February 3, 2009 6:28 PM

or are you just saying that this machine also has a giant safety pin to hold the giant ATM card attached and this giant pin doesn’t just one sharp point, but 1024 of them?

A nony mouse February 3, 2009 10:22 PM

@ Alik,

I think “Rob Mayfield” is joking about Steve’s post at the top about using the expression “ATM machine”.

That is it’s a redundant expression as ATM stands for “Auto Teller Machine”.

Rob jokingly took the expansion “auto teller machine machine” to mean it must be the “machine” that makes “auto teller machines”. And gave it silly properties such as the size of the card and pin number.

t October 26, 2009 10:00 PM

I think the most important thing to consider when contemplating any crime is how to avoid getting caught. Now lets talk about the cops and the fact that they are gonna be smashing your head into the ground about three minutes after you begin messing around with the atm. That part understood, lets just tear the thing out of the ground with a chain and a truck, get it out of the area in 30 seconds and play with it at home. Of course this will work with any atm that is not in a wall.

Jesse January 6, 2013 1:16 PM

Low Order and High Order explosives can be made at home. Tannerite being the best best. 5 pounds near the ATM shoot it with a rifle 100 meters out. Raining money.

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