Robbery of Hopewell woman at ATM highlights dangers of nighttime use

Posted at 11:57 PM, May 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-20 23:57:53-04

HOPEWELL, Va. (WTVR) -- Staying safe while withdrawing money from an ATM at night requires a few simple steps.

Self-defense experts say there's nothing wrong with circling a parking lot a couple of times to check around, to make sure no one's hiding out.

And when you pull up to the machine, pull up close.

A woman made a withdrawal from a Wells Fargo ATM in Hopewell Monday night, only to have it swiped by the armed thug seen in surveillance photos sent to CBS 6 by police.

"I try to make my transactions at day, not at night," said Thomas Williams, who was using an ATM in Hopewell Tuesday.

Police say that's a good rule to follow and they also recommend you to travel in pairs to the bank, especially at night.

"You're too far away," said  Roger Dabney, a self-defense expert from Competitive Edge Karate as he shows me where to pull my vehicle up.  He says the further you are from the ATM, the more you open yourself up to becoming a victim.

"It's easy for me to hide behind the box,” said Dabney. “I can take your card, your money and where am I?  I'm behind you on your blindside."

Police say comply with the robbers demands.  And Dabney agrees, but with a twist.  "He walks up, says, “Give me your money, give me your money, give me your money!” you throw it in his face,” said Dabney.   “It's a distraction and you take off."

Dabney believes if shots are fired, it's harder to hit a moving target.  "You gotta’  be quick on your feet,”  he said.  “I don't always tell people to take off,  but if you stay here, he'll take your money, your car and your life."

Dabney urges ATM users to deposit this next suggestion in their memory.  He says there’s wrong with driving around the bank and checking out the area? It could easily prevent a nasty surprise.

"It's a minute of your life and that could be a valuable minute," Dabney said.

The Hopewell woman was not seriously hurt.

Police are asking anyone in the area of the Wells Fargo branch on South 15th Street that may have seen anything suspicious to call Crime Solvers at 541-2202.