ATM smash & grabs solution, but city council officials say it's not on their radar

Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-27 20:50:05-04

ATM smash and grabs continue to pop up throughout Northeast Ohio, even after a huge raid last month on 11-men connected to most of them.

But there's an almost guaranteed solution to fix the problem, and it's catching on in multiple cities across the country.

Cities facing similar crime issues, have made it mandatory for store owners to cement barriers or bollards installed in front of their stores, experts say it cuts down the robberies by nearly 100 percent, but here in Cleveland, it's not even on council's radar.

When these criminals smash through stores, stealing ATMs, it leaves owners with thousands of dollars in damages.

“There's a lot of work involved to rebuild where the damage was," said Khalid Klobe, Owner of the Dairy Mart that got hit in April on West 117th Street.

Five months later, and he’s still picking up the pieces. The robbery set him back $41,000 but said he wouldn't be fooled again.

“You learn as you go, you know experience, that's what experience is... I'm doing everything in my power to secure the store more," he said.

Before he puts the ATM in the back of the store, this time, he's installing those bollards or barriers right in front of the store.

"It's a two for one with these things, if you put barriers to keep people from running into your ATM on purpose, these barriers are also going to I'm actually driving into your store and hurting people,” said Rob Reiter, Perimeter Security Expert who has been tracking these types of crimes across the U.S. for years.

He said these stores are an ideal target, so protection is key. In cities like Miami and parts of Texas, it's been the law for years now.

“The ones that have put the bollards up in front of the doors, are not experiencing any kind of problem," he said.

So I checked in with Cleveland city council.

“It's like what steps can we take. So we are looking at other cities, what other cities of done, because a lot of the stuff you don't have to re-create the wheel," said Councilman Mike Polensek.

He told me he's brought this up as a possible solution, but when I spoke to Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, he claims he's never heard of it.

“Making another law is not going to stop them or keep them," he said.

But now that he knows will anything be done?

“I’m certainly open to it, but it's not something that is currently, there's no ordinance that's before the council," said Councilman Kelley.

While it might cost owners a couple of thousand dollars up front, Klobe said it's worth it.

“Well worth it, it's well worth it... It should be a requirement in a store like that," he said.

Councilman Polensick said he hopes to see something more concrete in place by late fall, but you have to wonder how plausible that can be when the rest of council seems unaware of the issue.

State legislatures are also looking into the issue, focusing more on the placement of these ATMs in the stores.