Thinking inside the box aims to halt ATM theft

PUBLISHED: 17:03 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:51 07 September 2010

DISTINCTIVE yellow boxes have been painted around cash machines in Muswell Hill to remind bank users to stay vigilant when they withdraw money

Charlotte Newton

DISTINCTIVE yellow boxes have been painted around cash machines in Muswell Hill to remind bank users to stay vigilant when they withdraw money.

Police officers from the Muswell Hill Safer Neighbourhoods Team hope the scheme will lead to a reduction in the number of "distraction thefts".

In recent weeks, criminals have been lying in wait at cash machines and watched unsuspecting shoppers as they tap in their pin codes. The thieves have then pick-pocketed shoppers, stolen their bank card and withdrew large sums of cash.

The yellow boxes are designed to remind residents that nobody should be looking over their shoulders when they are withdrawing cash.

Sgt Paul Saunders, from Muswell Hill Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: "The idea behind the yellow boxes is that the box creates a 'comfort zone' for the machine user and gives the user more privacy.

"If any offender gets too close not only is the user alerted, but other members of the public are alerted to any suspicious behaviour. This makes it more difficult for anyone intent on criminal activity to commit any crime.

"When using a cash point, please always check that the machine has not been tampered with before you use it.

"Only take out money that you need - do not walk around with bundles of cash.

"If you see somebody acting suspiciously, walk away and come back later. When using the machine, make sure you cover your PIN when entering.

"Don't be afraid to ask people to step back and give you some space. Muswell Hill Safer Neighbourhoods Team will continue to work with partners to stamp out this criminality."

Haringey Council's enforcement and safer communities boss, Councillor Nilgun Canver, said: "It is common courtesy to give people space when using bank machines but many people forget this. I hope these boxes are a reminder that nobody wants someone breathing down their neck when using cash machines.

"If someone is doing this then perhaps they have other things in mind and you should be extra careful, such as not responding when spoken to until you have all your money and cards put away.

"These boxes are just one measure to help make it safer to use cash machines, however, people should always remain vigilant."

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