Sunday, June 19, 2016

Crime Lurks Around ATMs

Crime Lurks Around ATMs / 14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada

14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Havana, 16 June 2016 — "It was about
six in the evening and I had taken money from an ATM, when I saw the
knife." So says Carmen, 71, about the time when she was attacked by two
young men who stole her entire pension for the month on 10 de Octubre
Avenue. The little security in the areas where many of the ATMs are
located contributes to the assaults, a topic discussed last week at a
meeting between members of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and
government representatives in the capital.

In addition to losing 243 Cuban pesos, Carmen has inherited from that
traumatic moment the fear of reliving a similar situation. "From that
day I hardly go out into the street alone and when I'm going to collect
[my pension] at least two of my children accompany me," she explains.

During the meeting with the PNR, a representative of the Provincial
Administration Council (CAP) of the People's Power of the capital
confirmed the increase in robberies around ATMs. Police major Manuel
Alejandro Godinez warned that "security measures" will be taken to
address "the increase in assaults" at the cash machines, whose victims
are mostly elderly people.

In Havana there are 398 ATMs of the 700 in the country, although the
years and wear have taken more than a dozen of them out of service.
Vandalism has also contributed to the reduction in the number of cash
machines, like that suffered last May be three ATMs in Branch 295 of the
Metropolitan Bank in the Luyano neighborhood in the Diez de Octubre

However, the biggest concern for the police authorities focuses on the
increase in the first half of this year of robberies, as was noted at
the meeting. The most affected municipality is still Centro Habana
followed by Arroyo Naranjo, Diez de Octubre, San Miguel del Padron,
Marianao, La Lisa, Boyeros, Guanabacoa and Habana del Este.

"These are events that occur primarily in outlying neighborhoods and
where there is a higher crime rate," a government specialist in Central
Havana who works in crime prevention explained to this newspaper,
declining to give his name. "The most common victims are elderly,
because they are easier to frighten and because the country has more
than one million magnetic cards issued to retirees."

Major Godinez said during the meeting that the neighbors should be
alerted to "avoid older people from frequenting these places alone." He
also stressed that the police have arrested several youths, suspected
perpetrators of this type of theft, who are "under investigation" and
"some are minors, so their parents will be sanctioned for not having
them under control and monitoring their children."

One solution for reducing theft is to better illuminate the areas around
cash machines, says a customer who frequently uses the ATM on the main
street of Villa Panamericana. "Sometimes I come here and it is pitch
black, you can't see your hands in front of your face," she says.

However, Cubans have no choice: they need cash to pay for purchases,
since magnetic card payment in shops is often hampered by poor
communication between point-of-sale terminals and the bank.

Source: Crime Lurks Around ATMs / 14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada –
Translating Cuba -

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