Beware ATM attacks and armed robberies in Gauteng

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has published its annual crime statistics for 2018, outlining the state of digital crime, card fraud, and violent crime in South Africa’s banking sector.

SABRIC CEO Kalyani Pillay said the organisation was concerned about increases in digital fraud, especially the prevalence of vishing incidents and online banking fraud.

The statistics showed that incidents of some types of violent crime had decreased over the last year, but also found that Gauteng remained the national hotspot for many incidents of bank-related violent crime.

This is due to the number and concentration of bank branches and ATMs in the province.

SABRIC divides its violent crime statistics into various categories, which include ATM attacks, associated robbery, and bank robberies.

ATM attacks refer to instances where criminals break into ATM installations using a variety of methods, the most common of which is using a cutting torch or explosives.

Instances of bank robbery have increased by over 100% since 2017. Bank robbery refers to criminals who rely on violence to steal funds directly from bank branches.

Associated robbery comprises a number of attacks, including “Branch after withdrawal” robberies, where criminals follow a victim and rob them of cash withdrawn at a bank branch.

ATM attacks

Incidents of ATM attacks decreased slightly in 2018, with 36% of these attacks occurring in the Gauteng province.

“ATM attack incidents using explosives increased by 26% during 2018 when compared to 2017, however losses decreased by 15% for the same period,” SABRIC said.

Criminals mostly use grinders, explosives, and cutting torches to attempt to access the funds within these machines.

While incidents of ATM attacks have only decreased by 7%, cash losses due to ATM attacks decreased by 42% compared to the previous year.

The map below shows the distribution of ATM attacks in South Africa.

ATM attacks spread


Associated robbery incidents also dropped compared to the previous year, with 33% less incidents being reported.

SABRIC noted that Gauteng was always the number one province in this category, with 62% of associated robberies occurring in the province.

“Gauteng remains the most prominent province where associated robberies are committed due to the higher concentration of branches and ATMs,” SABRIC said.

SABRIC warned that these associated robberies follow a common modus operandi: A criminal watches you transact at an ATM or inside a bank, they follow you when you leave, and they rob you once you reach a more remote location.

To lower your risk of being targeted for an associated robbery, SABRIC recommends users follow the steps below:

  • Carry as little cash as possible.
  • Consider the convenience of paying your accounts electronically.
  • Alternate the days and times at which you deposit cash.
  • Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you.

SABRIC said that criminals target people who are both leaving after transacting at an ATM or bank as well as those who they have identified as travelling to a bank or ATM.

The image below shows the distribution of associated robberies in South Africa, with Gauteng remaining the number one hotpot for this type of violent crime.

Associated Robbery spread

Now read: Massive rise in mobile banking fraud in South Africa

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Beware ATM attacks and armed robberies in Gauteng