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Filipino ATM thief comes unstuck over fruit-sap trick

LOW-TECH HEIST: Instead of electronic gadgets or brute force, thieves from the Philippines have used the sticky sap from the jackfruit and a metal bar to steal money being withdrawn from ATMs. FILE PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES


    Oct 08, 2014

    Filipino ATM thief comes unstuck over fruit-sap trick


    THE use of computers in crime has increasingly caught the attention of the world.

    So imagine how surprised Philippine police were when they discovered that some ingenious thieves have been using low-tech sticky tree sap to rob high-tech cash-dispensing machines in banks.

    The ploy involves jackfruit sap, which is daubed on a metal bar that thieves attach to a slot on the automated teller machine (ATM), Manila police spokesman Edwin Malabanan revealed yesterday.

    Whenever a person tried to withdraw cash, the bills would stick to the bar, which the thieves would retrieve once the disappointed customer had left.

    "The sap is really sticky. It was really clever of them to think of it," Inspector Malabanan told AFP.

    The case came to light when customers of several banks started complaining of losses. That prompted the police to look into the matter and one of two thieves was arrested last week, thanks to closed-circuit TV footage from a bank ATM, he said.

    The police do not know how many other thieves have used this method, he added.

    He said that the police charged the suspect under a law which punishes the tampering of electronic devices for theft, but the charge was thrown out as he had used a non-electronic tool.

    The suspect will now be charged with simple theft, which carries a lesser penalty of up to six years in prison instead of up to 20 years in jail under the electronic devices law.