JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A typical ATM stop turned into a terrifying experience for one man robbed at gun point a few weeks ago while trying to make a deposit.
Sylvester Burton said the man who robbed him got away with about $400 to $500, and he never saw the man's face.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the incident was one of many ATM robberies that have happened around town recently. In the last 30 days, JSO said there have been seven ATM robberies.
Burton's robbery happened early in the morning. He said working late is not out of the ordinary for him, which is why stopping at the ATM to make a deposit around 1 a.m. a few weeks ago was pretty normal. But after he punched in his pin number, he got some unexpected company.
"You could see from the ATM machine to the other side of the bank, and I saw this car pulling around the corner but did not stop to let the person out, and I'm like, 'Uh oh, this is fixing to be trouble,'" Burton said.
He said a man ran up to him, pointing a gun at his side and telling him to get cash out.
"I was shaking real bad, and he was like, 'What's wrong with you?' And I'm like, 'Uh, well, you've got a gun pointed at me!'" Burton said.
He said the man was wearing a mask but in the heat of the moment, he made a big mistake.
"As he was leaning over me, messing with the machine, his mask dropped," Burton said. "The little cloth he had over his face, so they got a clear picture of his face (on the surveillance camera), so that's the good thing about this."
JSO said most ATM robberies happen at night, which is why it's important to go during the day. It's also important to pay attention to the surroundings. A lot of times, ATM users are focused on what's going on at the machine, but they're not paying attention to what's going on behind them.
JSO said ATM users should also have everything ready when they go to an ATM, and and if they end up in a robbery situation, don't make the thief angry, just comply with his or her demands.
"Nothing is worth more than your life," JSO spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said. "The little bit of money, your ATM card, you can call and cancel that. If you get shot, you may not recover."
Burton said he learned a valuable lesson from his experience.
"I will never be at a bank again at 1 o'clock in the morning," Burton said.
JSO said it's also a good idea to bring a friend with you if you're going to the ATM, because most robberies happen to people who are alone.
JSO offered a list of ATM safety tips:
- Pay close attention to your surroundings.
- Make sure the area around the ATM is well lit and not hidden from the road by landscaping, or buildings. If anyone looks suspicious in the area, use an ATM at another location or come back later.
- When possible, use ATMs during the daytime. Most ATM robberies occur at night.
- If possible, take a friend with you to the ATM or use it when there are other customers in the area. Most robberies are committed against a single victim.
- Limit your time at the ATM. Fill out transaction paperwork in your car and have your ATM card and other documents ready as you approach the ATM.
- When using a drive-up ATM, keep your car engine running, the doors locked and all windows up except for the one you are using.
Anyone with any information on any of the ATM robberies is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845 TIPS.