The gang focussed on kiosks which had two machines and used the second one to divert the customer’s attention away from the "defunct" first one.

Never trust a stranger, if you are attempting to withdraw cash from an ATM kiosk.

That is what the city police are trying to put across to the public after two strikingly similar thefts were reported from ATM counters in the city on Friday.

The same gang is suspected to be behind both incidents which occurred within the Museum and Peroorkada police station limits. Two similar cases were reported from the Fort and Pettah areas earlier, taking the number of ATM thefts in the city to four in the last four months.

The police say the gang had struck after a brief lull, sneaking away with Rs.50,000 in cash.

On Friday, the gang, suspected to comprise three men, had offered help when the victim found one of the two machines inside a kiosk at Peroorkada irresponsive. He had entered his PIN number but when the transaction failed, two persons who were standing near the second machine suggested that he use that machine.

He withdrew money and immediately after leaving the kiosk, got an SMS alert that Rs.20,000 more had been withdrawn from his account.

At Jawahar Nagar

In the second incident at another two-machine ATM kiosk at Jawahar Nagar, a woman found herself in a similar situation, with three men offering help only to find out later that Rs.30,000 was withdrawn from her account as soon as she left the kiosk.

According to A. Pramod Kumar, Circle Inspector, Control Room, who is part of the investigation team led by M.G. Haridas, Assistant Commissioner, Cantonment, the police have visuals of the gang from the ATMs and had passed them on to all police stations.

Photographs of the suspects would be posted in ATMs across the city to warn customers. Banks had also been asked to strengthen security at ATMs, he said.

Why two-ATM kiosks

The gang is suspected to have tampered with the keypads of the machines to get the PIN number of the victim and also to prevent the machine from completing the transaction. They focussed on kiosks which had two machines and used the second one to divert the customer’s attention away from the “defunct” first one.

Search outside State

With the culprits suspected to be from outside the State, the police are likely to despatch teams to other cities, including Bangalore, shortly.

RELATED NEWS

ATM theft: one more complaint lodgedJanuary 21, 2014