Bank branches where an ATM is located will be temporarily closed at night. That is what Karel Van Eetvelt, CEO of Febelfin, told VTM Nieuws on Friday. The measure comes after the fifth explosion of an ATM within the last few weeks. The five largest banks (Belfius, KBC, ING, BNP Paribas Fortis and Bpost) will implement the measure.
On Thursday night there was another explosion at an ATM in Seneffe. That is why an urgent meeting was held today at the office of Minister of the Interior, Jan Jambon (N-VA), to discuss short- and long-term measures to prevent further strikes.
Earlier, thieves had absconded with 400,000 euro in an ING office in Kinrooi, 250,000 euro from a Bpost ATM in Buggenhout, 70,000 euro from a KBC ATM in Tielt-Winge and a still unknown sum from a Bpost machine in Boechout.
How long the measure will apply is not yet clear. It has also been agreed that the police will pay closer attention in the near future to ATMs that thieves may target. Febelfin has also asked the judiciary to make it clear that thieves who commit these type of robberies risk serious penalties
Minister Jambon emphasises the importance of the gathering. “It is really a plague. We have to see what steps we can take to deal with this, but in any case we will not make these measures public,” he says.
Next week on Friday there will be a larger conclave with the Jambon cabinet. It will also include representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the police and security services. “The purpose of these consultations is to see what exactly has happened,” says Isabelle Marchand, spokesperson for Febelfin. “We will also look at what additional measures we can take in the area of prevention to stop these ATM explosions as quickly as possible.”
Since the first attack, many banks have already taken extra measures with the security firms they work with. The closure measure only applies to ATMs inside bank branches. Machines situated on the street will still operate as usual.