BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- There's never a time someone should let their guard down and at the ATM it's crucial the customer is aware of their surroundings.
What would you do if faced with a situation just like that?
The FBI reports most bank and ATM robberies occur at night -- but if you know when to go and how to prepare--you are less likely to fall victim to a crime.
It takes just seconds for you to get your cash from an ATM. The same amount of time a crook could target you as their next victim to rob.
Lt. Kevin Russell with the Benton Police Department says armed ATM robberies are rare in his town but citizens and law enforcement should stay attuned.
"The safest thing is to use the drive-up ATMs because that way you're still in your vehicle and you can get away quicker and more safely because you can keep your doors locked." says Russell.
Russell says if you MUST get out of your car for the transaction, choose a machine that's in a central location such as inside the building or at least with a security guard nearby. Criminals often strike in the low-lit or hidden areas. If possible, visit the ATM while the bank is open and also--stay off your cell phone!
"You do NOT WANT to be going in and out of a store or at the ATM and looking at your phone or checking Twitter updates while you're trying to do something else because that's when someone's going to come up and be 3 feet behind you before you even notice them." advises Russell.
If you do find yourself in danger, Russell says do all you can to get away but,
"If someone has approached you and they're carrying a shotgun and you can at all possibly get away or think you can, then try to and if that involves injuring the suspect then so be it!" says Russell.
Sometimes ATMs can have technical problems but there's a point when you may need to walk away. Even if it means leaving your debit card or your cash behind.
"You don't want to risk your life for that $40 or $60 that you're trying to get out of the ATM. That can be replaced. Your life can not. So you see them and suspect something just doesn't feel right, go with that instinct and get outta there."