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Dec 1, 2023

Thieves Target Three ATMs in Six Days Heritage Bank

The convenience of having automated teller machines, otherwise known as ATMs in areas where we live, work or have to pass everyday is something that we may have taken for granted because they’ve been around for decades now. But three very costly incidents within a space of only six days against Heritage Bank ATMs have forced the bank to rethink its position on continuing to offer that convenience. Over the course of Thursday night, thieves targeted two of Heritage Bank’s ATMs, one on the Bullet Tree Road in Cayo and one in Belize City. And on Saturday night, the Heritage ATM in Roaring Creek Village, also in Cayo, was targeted. While in those two incidents in Cayo none of the money was stolen, the two machines, worth between fifty to a hundred thousand dollars each, were destroyed.  In the case of the Belize City theft last night, the entire machine containing around a hundred thousand dollars was yanked out of the convenience store at the Puma Service Station on Faber’s Road. While surveillance video captured the incident as it played out, the thieves were sure to hide their identities by wearing hoods that covered their heads and cloth over their faces. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.


Marion Ali, Reporting

The theft of the ATM at the Puma Service Station at the junction of Faber’s Road and the George Price Highway, captured here on surveillance camera, shows exactly how the thieves were able to carry out the illegal act. Heritage Bank’s Managing Director, Stephen Duncan told News Five that the crime was committed just before four a.m.


Stephen Duncan, Managing Director, Heritage Bank

Stephen Duncan

“We got word this morning that last night the ATM in the gas station just by Faber’s Road there at the corner of Farber’s Road and the highway it was stolen, noh, the whole ATM was stolen. It was actually located inside the convenience store at the gas station, and it was stolen. Camera footage has shown that it was yanked out from its location by a vehicle attached to a chain, noh? They pulled it out and they went off with the whole machine.”


This brazen theft in the presence of several surveillance cameras was not the only one that occurred over the night. Heritage Bank’s ATM in San Ignacio was also targeted.  And then on Saturday night, the first of their ATMs, that time in Roaring Creek was targeted.


Stephen Duncan

“Last night, in fact, it wasn’t one. It was two. We didn’t lose the ATM, but the other one was vandalized on the Bullet Tree Road in San Ignacio and it was vandalized so that ATM is not good any longer. They had blow torch and they tried to get in and cut the machine and all kinds of things. So it’s totally damaged, destroyed.”


Marion Ali

“They got away with the cash?”


Stephen Duncan

“No, not in that one, but it’s just – we lost two in one night, two attacks in one night and just a few days ago last Saturday, Saturday gone. There was another attack in Roaring Creek and so you’re talking in one week, three attacks where we have lost three ATMs and meaning that the ATMs are no longer good. They’re destroyed and in the case of the one last night, the whole ATM was taken with the cash.”


These kinds of incidents have put a toll on Heritage Bank’s profits, to the point where they are rethinking whether the ATM service is one they want to continue with.


Stephen Duncan

“It is becoming now very expensive for us as a bank and we’re going to have to certainly rethink whether this is a service we can continue. We have been diligently trying to put ATMs in various locations for the convenience of the wider public, we think it has been working. We are seeing the usage, so we think that the public appreciates it, but clearly, we cannot continue to do that with these kinds of losses. I have no doubt the insurance company is looking at this and they themselves are considering how they deal with us. So, it’s going to be a loss. As I said, the good suffer for the bad because it’s going to be a loss all around for everybody. But certainly we can continue to do this at this rate.”


Currently, Heritage Bank has around fifty ATM machines across the country. Will Heritage Bank also remove the current ATMs it has at those other locations?


Stephen Duncan

“If it reaches a point where we have to cut our fees drastically, significantly, while we are taking these kinds of losses, we are going to have to streamline our business. Because we just can’t continue to do that. I mean, we are not running a charity organization. And our shareholders and investors do want a return on their investments. So, certainly we are going to have to rethink our business model. And see how best we can work with it.”

Duncan believes that because Heritage Bank has far more ATMs than the other banks, that is the reason theirs have been sought after. In addition, none of the three locations that were targeted this week has security guards on watch. Duncan says the bank will look to see if there are enhanced security measures it can take to deter the activity from happening again. The bank is also hoping that police intelligence can result in the arrests of the culprit.  Marion Ali reporting for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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