The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office recently retrieved skimmer devices from bank ATMs in Santa Maria and Orcutt. Officers say they discovered the devices before whomever installed them was able to return.
Skimmers are devices that fit over an ATM or gas pump key pad and capture data from card magnetic strips. That data can be used to create a clone card or used for online purchases.
Skimmers were found at two Rabobank locations, the branch on S. Broadway in Santa Maria and the branch on E. Clark Avenue in Orcutt. The devices were in place at both locations for several hours Sunday morning.
“The thieves had used double-sided tape to put the atm skimming devices over the card reader and it was very, very hard to detect. They also used false money dispenser covers that had a small video camera where they were using that video camera to capture code entries on the pin pad,” said Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kelly Hoover.
Hoover said skimmers are an ongoing problem, and are more commonly discovered at gas pumps.
“It’s really risky for thieves to do something like this because they are being captured on video surveillance. And in order for them to use any of this information that they obtain on these skimming devices, they actually have to come back and get them,” Hoover said.
Law enforcement recommends customers go inside stores or gas stations to make purchases whenever possible. And if not, awareness is key. Weekends are the preferred time for thieves to place or retrieve skimmers.
“When you are using an ATM machine or gas pump,and you put your card in, just examine it first, feel free to wiggle the device and make sure it’s intact and not loose,” Hoover said. “It’s good to get in the habit of anytime you are entering your PIN, just pretend that there is a camera watching you and actually cover your hand over the keypad.”
In the March 5 cases in northern Santa Barbara County, while police didn’t nab the suspects retrieving the devices, they were clearly captured by the ATM’s camera installing the skimmers.