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Author Topic: ATMs and missing persons  (Read 1708 times)
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Scared Monkey
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« on: October 08, 2008, 08:30:11 PM »

If you want to really do something constructive, read this and take it to your legislator.  A lot of missing persons, foul play suspected, are victims of "Express Kidnappings."  This kind of crime has no crime code section associated with it, so the police can't track it.  The software they use, called "Compstat" uses crime code sections and addresses to track crime patterns.  Though there is no crime code section, all ATMs have addresses.  All that the police need to track these crimes is a master list of all ATM addresses in the state sent to them as an email with the ATM owner's master list attached as a spreadsheet.  The cost to the state is the cost of receiving an email.  They already have all the personnel, hardware and software they need to track the problem.  IF you don't see why this is important, read this story about the TOWN MALL KILLER in Boca Raton. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24920708/ The police don't have a good description of this bastard and they've wrongly arrested three men because of it.  It's perfectly possible this guy's picture was taken at an ATM in another crime in another city, but because the police can't search their own files for the crime pattern, they will never know it.  The Crime Intelligence Unit of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement could track down all similar crimes, search the files for evidence that would lead them to this killer. BUT, THE BANKS WON'T LET IT HAPPEN BECAUSE IT WOULD EXPOSE THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM AND THAT IS NOT GOOD FOR BUSINESS.  For years, the lack of this information allowed Gary Michael Hilton and Bruce Mendenhall to leave a string of bodies all over the South East states and no one had any idea they were there.  IF the police had this information available, Hilton and Mendenhall and The Town Mall Killer would stand out like a neon sign.  If it gets passed anywhere, it exposes the problem everywhere, and then other measures will be forced on the industry to fix the problem.  http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1077638.html  Take this to your legislator in your state.  I'm a retired attorney, I've written legislation before.  The law below would make a good guide for writing a state, county or city ordinance. 

The crime pattern does NOT begin at the ATM, it begins as 1) either a carjacking from a parking lot or as a home invasion; 2) the victim is driven to an ATM; where 3) the first withdrawal occurs.  The criminal then reaches a decision point whether to release the victim or to take the victim to a remote location, execute him or her and hide the body so he can continue making withdrawals.  (This decision point is what makes it really unique, distinct from either kidnapping or aggravated robbery or extortion by wire.)  The crimes don’t follow the usual distribution for violent felonies, that is, inner city, high population density have higher rates than suburban/rural areas.  The criminal, in effect, goes out “hunting” for victims in areas where victims with more money are found. That means parking lots for upscale malls, bars, restaurants etc.  With that in mind, no ATM is actually “safe” as the victim can be held in the trunk of the while the card is used.
When one of these crimes comes to the attention of the police, it follows one of three “informational pathways.”  All that is required would be an email and reply to/from each of the following categories of officer in a given department.

1)   If the victim survived the incident, then the first officer on the scene documents the ATM connection in the narrative section of the field report.  Because this is a violent felony, even the busiest patrol supervisors will read each of these reports every time one is reported.  A survey of the patrol supervisors will give a good idea of how many non-fatal incidents occur in a given time frame.
2)   If the victim is a confirmed murder case, then the homicide investigator documents the ATM connection when the bank complies with the search warrant for the victim’s records.  A homicide investigator will have a more reliable idea of how many of these cases he/she has investigated, thus an emailed survey to each investigator will yield reliable data.
3)   Finally, the victim may be misclassified as a missing person, foul play suspected.  The missing person investigator documents the ATM connection in the same fashion as the homicide investigator.  What the missing person investigator finds is 1) a person permanently disappears; 2) under suspicious circumstances justifying a search warrant; and 3) the last clue to the victim’s whereabouts is a cluster of maximum daily withdrawals.

This leaves two categories of victims whose numbers can only be speculated.  If there were no grounds to issue a search warrant, then there is no case opened in the first place.  For instance, a husband comes home and finds his wife and son are gone. He has the ATM records, but because there is no evidence to justify a search warrant, no case is opened and they are listed as “missing, unresolved.”  So far as the police know, she merely fled a bad marriage taking her son with her.  Finally, because only about 50% of the potential ATM card market has been achieved, that means that at least part of the time, the victim was attacked merely in the hope that he/she had an ATM card.  In other words, the entire population is endangered by the way that the banking industry functions, not just those willing to assume the risk of carrying an ATM card. 

COMMENTS: The law should be very cheap to implement for both the banking industry and the police department.  Boiled down to its essence, all that it requires of the bank or ATM owner is to send the agency an email with an attached file that has the addresses of their ATMs and the date that each ATM was installed.  This would make it possible for the agency to simply download the information and pull up a statistical picture of all crimes associated with the ATM network.  If any modifications to the software are necessary, most likely it can be done in-house, so the list would not even have to be entered by hand.  The Model Act doesn’t require the information be used unless the agency concludes it would be worth whatever time and expense are necessary.

State and Federal Laws governing financial institutions such as banks, credit unions and savings and loans don’t apply because only about 20% of ATMs nationwide are owned by a financial institution in the first place, so under the worst conditions, the researcher would still get an 80% sample of all ATMs in the community.  Federal and state pre-emption of local laws should not be a problem either as this ordinance doesn’t involve any bank functions. It does not even impose safety standards.  In that sense, it’s much more like a fire safety ordinance applied to the building the bank is in than regulation of bank business activities. 



“Whereas, the collection and collation of crime data is an important function of local law enforcement agencies in determining the best application of available resources, and violent ATM crimes present a unique development in society, it is resolved as follows:

1)   All owners of automatic teller machines (ATMs) shall provide a master list of all addresses of their ATMs and the dates of each deployment to the local police agency having primary authority for law enforcement at each location.
2)   If no municipal agency has primary responsibility for a given ATM address, then the ATM owner shall supply the County Sheriff’s Office with the list.
3)   Said list shall be provided in an electronic format such as a spread-sheet, word processor or other chosen by the law enforcement agency for compatibility with its own information technology system and software.
4)   At the discretion of the agency, a paper copy of the ATM list may be substituted. 
5)   Said list shall be used at the discretion of the agency for statistical analysis and when requested, by recognized academic researchers.  At the discretion of the agency director, access may be granted to others with a legitimate interest in the information.
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