UK’s most dangerous ATMs

Where are the UK’s most dangerous ATMs?

Even in today’s increasingly cashless society there is still the need to withdraw money from ATMs, making it important to be aware of the associated risks. So, where are the most dangerous places to withdraw cash in the UK?

Last year, one in six Brits claimed they were ‘card-only’ shoppers,1 with this number expected to rise as contactless payment cards become the norm.

But as we’ve seen, plastic isn’t perfect. A system failure in June left Visa cardholders unable to make payments2 and no doubt wishing they had a wallet full of cash at their disposal. Some people just don’t trust contactless technology, while others simply prefer to use cold, hard cash for their everyday spending needs.

According to our December 2017 survey, Brits still make an average of 1.5 cash payments per day,3 with a third believing there will always be a use for cash.

So, it looks like we’ll be withdrawing cash from ATMs for some time to come. But some areas of the country have a higher risk of crime near cashpoints, so it pays to know where to withdraw your cash and what steps to take to stay safe.

Through Freedom of Information requests to police forces across the UK, we have been able to gather data on cashpoint-related crimes such as theft over the last decade, and can now reveal the areas with the most dangerous ATMs.

Cities with the most dangerous cashpoint locations

Over the last decade, London easily takes top slot for the highest number of thefts and robberies near ATMs, with over twice as many taking place in the capital than second-place Nottingham.

In fact, London has had the same number of these crimes at cashpoints as the next three cities combined.

Cities with the most dangerous cashpoints over the last decade

However, when population is factored into the equation, London actually drops to 153rd in the table, with provincial towns proving that you’re not only at risk in the big cities.

In fact, the country’s major conurbations are relatively low down the table. Manchester has the highest number of thefts or robberies at ATMs per person out of the top 10 largest cities in the country4 – but it only reached 19th place in the overall table.

Perhaps surprisingly, less densely-populated Suffolk and Hertfordshire both have high numbers of thefts and robberies per person. In Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, for example, there’s a 1/415 chance of residents having suffered from one of these crimes, while Watford in Hertfordshire – with a population of 96,773 at the last census – has a 1/463 chance.

When comparing cities such as Coventry (one theft or robbery per 13,574 residents), Derby (1/14,235), or Stoke-on-Trent (1/23,021), it is possible to see the wide variance in the number of reported crimes near ATMs.

Number of thefts/robberies at ATMs per Person: Top 5 in the UK vs Top 5 largest cities

The history of dangerous cashpoints

Year-on-year since 2007, London has been top of the cashpoint theft and robbery table every year. But if we look at where comes next, Nottingham and Manchester have been in and out of second place on the most occasions.

The trend looks set to continue for 2018, where Nottingham and Manchester are joined by Birmingham as the cities that have experienced the most acts of crime near cashpoints so far, excluding London.

Areas with the most dangerous cashpoints by year

Out of the top 10 largest cities in the UK with available data, only three have seen a decrease in thefts and robberies near ATMs when comparing 2007 and 2017.

Liverpool has seen the largest percentage increase during this time, with a 260% rise in the number of these crimes, followed by Leeds at 200%.

Cardiff, Stoke and Coventry, which have experienced a 13%, 100% and 300% decrease in the number of thefts and robberies respectively, are the only cities out of the largest in the UK that have seen a decline in the amount of ATM-based crime.

Percentage increase in thefts/robberies from ATMs in the UK’s largest cities between 2007 and 2017

Which London borough has the most dangerous cashpoints?

London has recorded the largest number of crimes near ATMs in the last decade, but where in the city is the cashpoint crime hotspot?

If we break down the crimes by boroughs, those looking to take out cash near the Houses of Parliament should be aware that Westminster has the highest rate of theft and robbery near ATMs in the capital. With a population of nearly 250,000, it works out as one in 934 having experienced crime near a cashpoint at some point in the last 10 years.

After Westminster comes one of London’s most popular tourist areas, Camden, with one in 1,865 – a significantly lower number of crimes per person considering the populations of both boroughs are similar in size.

London boroughs with the most crimes at ATMs over the last decade

Regional breakdown

By splitting the data by police force, it’s possible to see the city in each jurisdiction that has experienced the most thefts and robberies near ATMs in the last decade; there’s a pretty even spread around the majority of the country. However, London, Nottingham and Manchester’s local forces have dealt with higher numbers of these incidents than anywhere else in the country.

City in each police force boundary with the highest number of thefts and robberies near ATMs

Tips for cashpoint safety and security

With nearly 40% of Brits saying they like to carry cash with them,4 we’ve compiled this handy list of the best advice for staying safe when withdrawing money:

  • AVOID TOURIST HOTSPOTS: Consider moving away from the main tourist areas to get cash out. Pickpockets target busy areas with larger numbers of tourists, such as Westminster in London, so be alert if you have to withdraw funds in these areas.
  • KNOW WHO’S AROUND: Always make sure no one is looking over your shoulder and cover the keypad when entering your pin – know your surroundings and use a different cashpoint if someone nearby is acting suspiciously.
  • SECURE YOUR CASH: Make sure you’ve secured your withdrawn money in your wallet, purse or bag, zipped up if possible, to reduce the chances of someone attempting to steal it.
  • SMALL TOWN RISKS: Don’t assume that because you’re not in a major city there’s no risk when taking cash out. It’s worth being aware wherever you are in the country.
  • HIDDEN TRAPS: Look out for cameras installed on the cashpoint, or anything else that seems suspicious – thieves have many methods of stealing your card details.
  • BLOCK STOLEN CARDS: If you do become the victim of a theft or robbery and your bank card is stolen, call the police and then block the card so no money can be spent – especially if it is a credit card. Some banks offer features on their mobile apps that mean you can freeze and unfreeze your card at the touch of a button.

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Sources

1 Square: One in six Brits is now a “card-only” shopper:  https://squareup.com/gb/news/one-in-six-brits-is-now-a-card-only-shopper

2 The Guardian: Visa card payment system returns to full capacity after crash: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jun/01/visa-card-network-crashes-and-sparks-payment-chaos

3 MoneySuperMarket: Losing Contact with Cash?: https://www.moneysupermarket.com/credit-cards/losing-contact-with-cash/

4 MoneySuperMarket: Losing Contact with Cash?: https://www.moneysupermarket.com/credit-cards/losing-contact-with-cash/

Each request aimed to gather data on thefts and robberies that have occurred in close proximity of cashpoints around the country between 2007 and 2018, revealing the areas with the most dangerous cashpoints.

Thefts and robberies in this instance refers to ‘Theft from the Person’ (Home Office code 39) and ‘Robbery of Personal Property’ (Home Office code 34B). Please see the government’s counting rules and crime classifications for more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counting-rules-for-recorded-crime.

The proximity of a crime to an ATM is at the discretion of the reporting officer, and so it is not possible to ascertain the exact distance from an ATM at which a crime took place.

The top ten largest cities in the country in this instance only includes cities we have been able to gather data for – data for Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Sheffield was unobtainable.

NB. The data refers to information gathered from the following police forces: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cleveland, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon & Cornwall, Dorset, Durham, Dyfed-Powys, Greater Manchester, Gwent, Hertfordshire, Humberside, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Metropolitan, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Northumbria, North Wales, Nottinghamshire, South Wales, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Mercia, West Midlands and West Yorkshire.

Data for Cheshire was only available from 2016 to 2018, data for Gwent was only available from 2014 to 2018 and data for Lancashire was only available from 2013 to 2018.

Information has not been included for the following police forces, as they did not use location tags that enabled us to link a theft/robbery with an ATM: Avon & Somerset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire & Isle of Wight, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South Yorkshire, Sussex, Thames Valley, Wiltshire.

Population figures are as per the Office of National Statistics, relating to data from 2011-2016.

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