A programme to splash the cash and criminals if ATMs come under attack is being rolled-out UK-wide after slashing crime by more than 90%.

The Co-op has teamed-up with award-winning forensic technology company SmartWater to roll-out the new deterrent, which links criminals back to the scene of a crime. 

SmartWater has adapted its dispersal technology to ensure that criminals and stolen cash are marked with invisible gel. With a reduction in ATM crime of more than 90% when the technology was piloted at over 300 locations in 2016, the technology is now being rolled-out to all cash dispensers located at Co-op food stores across the country, approximately 2,500.

Although ATM crime methods may vary – gas attacks are generally in decline; ATM cutting offences are most prominent in the North West: Black Box offences are the key concern in London and, Drag Out offences, primarily using heavy plant, are the key concern in Eastern and East Midlands regions – the technology is effective regardless of how an ATM comes under attack.

Designed by a former police officer and his scientist brother, the unique forensic signature at each ATM increases the risk to criminals of being tracked and traced by police following a theft, leading to conviction.

Invisible to the naked eye, an amount of gel the size of a speck of dust can provide the “solution” for forensic investigators to undertake a successful analysis and help police with identification, with the forensic signature guaranteed to last five years.

Iain Raphael, detective chief superintendent and Enfield Borough commander, said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is in formal partnership with SmartWater, with the MetTrace initiative aimed at reducing household burglary in Greater London. As a result, all custody areas have suitable detectors fitted, with all prisoners routinely scanned and hundreds of patrol staff have been both equipped and trained to detect it. We welcome any crime prevention initiative such as this that can benefit from our ongoing work with SmartWater and criminals contemplating attacks on Co-op ATM’s should take note.”

Chris Whitfield, Co-op’s director of retail and logistics, said: “ATM crime impacts customers and communities. It can also have a disproportionate impact on rural police force areas where cash dispensers are more of a lifeline for residents and the local economy. At the forefront of combating ATM crime this proven technology utilises the latest ATM security capabilities and innovations to cut crime, providing a safer and secure way to deliver a key and convenient service in local communities.”

Phil Cleary, CEO and co-founder of SmartWater, said: “This technical development represents a serious upgrade in the security of ATMs as SmartWater products have helped convict hundreds of criminals world-wide and retains a 100% track record in court. Simply, the ATM’s protected by SmartWater now represent too high a risk for criminals and the more professional will give them a wide berth.”

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