Lawmakers want to make ATM robberies a federal crime

Bank robberies are considered a federal crime, but robbing someone at most ATMs is not. Lawmakers say criminals are taking advantage of this loophole.
Posted at 1:15 PM, May 18, 2023

Several lawmakers plan to reintroduce the Safe Access to Cash Act, making most ATM robberies a federal crime. 

The bill is being introduced by Rep. John Rose, R-Tennessee, and Rep. Glen Ivey, D-Maryland. The bill was first introduced in 2022 but did not get a hearing. 

The lawmakers are hopeful the bill gets more consideration this time around. 

The proposal comes amid a jump in ATM robberies in recent years. In 2021, the FBI reported 254 ATM robberies, up from 229 in 2020; 31 in 2019; and 74 in 2018. The lawmakers noted that robbing a physical bank constitutes a federal crime. Because ATMs are often located in convenience stores and non-banking establishments, ATM robberies frequently are not subject to federal law enforcement. 

Rose told Scripps News’ "Morning Rush" he is hopeful to change that loophole. 

“And so really this is an extension to provide the same protections for non-bank-owned ATMs, so-called independently owned ATMs, to make it clear that they, in fact, constitute a bank robbery as well,” Rose said. “Unfortunately, right now, if they were transacting at a non-bank-owned ATM, that would not fall under the purview of the FBI, or it would not be considered a federal crime. And so this law would extend it to make it clear that it is a federal crime and the thieves know this.”

Entrance to a Target store.

Target warns theft, crime-fueled losses could top $1.2B this year

The announcement comes after the retail giant estimated losses of $700 million to $800 million from theft last year.


Ivey noted that 60% of ATMs throughout the U.S. are independently owned. 

Because of the wide impact of the bill, coupled with bipartisan support, Ivey believes the bill will gain traction in Congress. 

“Sometimes it takes time to move legislation in Congress; the public won't be surprised to hear that,” Ivey said. But I think now is a good moment for us. We've got a bipartisan effort to move this thing forward, and I think we'll have a chance to get it done this year.”

The rise in ATM robberies the last two years could be a call to action for members of Congress, Rose stated.

“I think it's essentially criminals recognizing that the punishments and the investigatory power that will be put behind pursuing those crimes is not the same as if they rob a bank,” he said. “And so that's what is really prompting this legislation, a rare show of bipartisanship.”