Monday, May 28, 2012

No Laughing Matter

The bad guy in the cartoon is saying, “See you later, Love. I’m off to make a withdrawal from the ATM.”
The joke might not register in most places. But, if you live in Brazil, you get it right away.
The country, you see, is awash in a new kind of crime: blowing up ATMs in order to get at the cash .
It all started in Joinville, in Santa Catarina.

Back then, the technique was to use acetylene torches to cut one’s way to the money. But the criminals soon progressed to a more efficient method.


Each machine, when recently supplied, commonly contains about US 150,000 in cash.

So hitting two or three machines at the same time can provide a hefty quantity of swag. And at less risk than hitting a bank during operating hours.

 The machines are equipped with devices to stain the money with dye. But it doesn’t seem to be helping.

And supermarkets, which used to contain the machines in abundance, have begun balking at being broken into and having their premises blown up. So ATMs are, lamentably, becoming scarcer throughout Brazil while the manufacturers work hard to make them bombproof.

This map, already more than two months old, shows the number of exploded cash machines, in 2012, in the State of São Paulo alone.
Brazil has 26 States.
And the phenomenon is occurring in all of them.
Here, for your edification, is a video showing a truly professional gang at work:
It’s a thing of beauty – if you’re a crook.
Leighton - Monday


  1. I always learn something useful whenever I read one of your posts, Leighton. Until seeing that film clip I never knew the appropriate use for a tool I found in a dusty corner of a barn on a couple-hundred-years-old farm I bought some decades ago.

    I knew the main house had once been a speakeasy, and later a brothel, but ATM's back then, who woulda thunk it but for your post?

  2. Leighton,

    I regret to inform you that you are WAY behind the times in Brazil. In South Africa we went through a spate of ATM bombings, but the problem is now almost completely solved. It turns out that it is much more efficient to allow the ATMs to survive and to use them as a way to scam users out of their money electronically. Personally, I think this is a a true growth industry. I'm waiting for the IPO, so I kept my powder dry - so to speak - and passed on the Facebook listing.

  3. We've heard that the Brazilian economy is exploding, but now we understand why.

  4. Right now in Hollywood some gangster (though many prefer the term "producer") is planning a remake of this successful Branzilian project.

  5. "Branzillian?"

    I think it's time for my nap.