Cops urge caution at Cross Bay ATMs

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Police have warned bank users on Cross Bay Boulevard to be careful the next time they go to take money out of the ATM after business hours.

Identity thieves have been using technology to hack into and empty bank accounts, police said. They have done so on at least two occasions at a bank on 156th Street and Cross Bay Boulevard. The first robbery happened about eight weeks ago, police said, with the second incident about a month later.

Police said the thieves have been placing skimming devices on door locks that require a debit card to enter the bank. All ATMs but one will then be disabled, police said, with a small camera focused on the machine’s pin pad. The thieves can then match the skimmer’s information with that of the PIN number.

ATM users are advised by police to take precautions such as covering the pin pad with their free hand when withdrawing or depositing money.

The crimes are classified as a grand larceny, police said, because of the amounts that have been taken out. A spokesperson from the 106th Precinct said the thieves have cleared out bank accounts nearly completely. Bank customers would sometimes not even notice that significant amounts had been taken out, the spokesperson said, until they received their monthly bank statements.

The identity thieves are very coordinated, police said, and will vary the areas they hit to avoid detection. Currently, police said they have surveillance video of the suspects. They are wearing hooded sweatshirts and never look directly at the camera and might be hard to identify, police said.