KIRKLAND -- It has to be one of the worst feelings ever; you're standing at the ATM when someone walks up from behind, sticks a knife in your back and demands your money. That attack happened last Tuesday at the U.S. Bank on 100th Avenue Northeast in Kirkland. Fortunately, the customer, although shaken is OK. That was the second such attack that day. Police believe the same man tried to rob another customer at a BECU on Northeast 124th Street.
Judging from surveillance video, police believe the suspect in the both robberies is the same man. Customers say no matter what bank they use, they are nervous about this kind of crime. "I think it's frightening, personally. I’m very cautious though,” shopper Diane Hutchinson said. "Unfortunately ATM robberies these times of year are pretty prevalent. A lot of that has to do with the shortness of light during the day,” Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound Executive Director Myrle Carner said. Carner says there are simple things we can do to reduce our chances of becoming a victim. First be hyper-aware of your surroundings as you approach the ATM. "If you feel like someone is getting pretty close to you, it doesn't matter if it's a female or a male and it's kind of against your comfort zone, hey back off and do it later," Carner said. "You don't have to step up and do it at that time. So if you feel like you get a gut feel like something is wrong, probably is." Carner says you have to protect yourself and your banking information, whether you're at an ATM or inside a store during checkout. "You can prevent that by just covering the keys punching in your number and being totally aware of what your surroundings are,” Carner said.
This type of crime is handled at the Federal level by the U.S. Secret Service. They urge everyone to take all necessary steps to protect ourselves, especially, as this type of crime tends to increase during the holiday season. "Secure your purse at all times, make sure you have your card secured in the purse and keep the purse close by. Don't let anyone get between you and your purse or your wallet,” U.S. Secret Service Detective Don Carroll said. Anyone with information about the most recent attempted robberies should call 911.