UPDATE: Police said they are issuing the warning because there have been at least five incidents at the Bank of America in downtown San Leandro since May 19 in which customers lost a total of nearly $10,000.
Since mid-May, two San Leandro Bank of America branches have experienced at least five shoulder surfing thefts from outdoor ATM machines, four of them at the bank’s main branch at 1400 E. 14th St. in the city’s downtown, police said.
On Oct. 13, police learned of five separate unauthorized transactions that occurred at the Bank of America branch at 1200 Fairmont Drive in San Leandro.
Police said a customer told them that two men were near the ATM machines acting suspiciously.
Officers responded but didn’t find the men, police said.Investigators have since learned that $1,000 was stolen from five different customers’ accounts that afternoon and believe the crimes were likely committed by the men who were shoulder surfing their victims.
Lt. Robert McManus said in a statement, “We are aware of the trend in San Leandro and have deployed undercover officers to various banks, in hopes of apprehending anyone who attempts these fraudulent crimes.”
McManus said, “We know that this is a national trend right now and are working with banks and other law enforcement agencies to educate consumers, prevent the crimes from occurring and arrest those that commit them.”
He said police don’t know if any of the incidents are related and are working with the Bank of America in an attempt to tie the two suspects to other crimes. Police said they believe that the new ATM and credit cards issued with chips embedded in them will help reduce these types of crimes.
But they said they still want to remind people to be aware of their surroundings and take preventative measures to protect their identity and credit.
San Leandro police said anyone with information about the incidents should call their criminal investigation division at (510) 577-3230.
SAN LEANDRO (KRON) — Thieves are targeting banks in San Leandro, but not the clerks inside.
Instead, they are preying on customers using the ATMs. San Leandro police have arrested two men, but they believe there may be more suspects out there.
Crooks are doing something called shoulder surfing, and there have been at least six instances in San Leandro. More than $9,000 have been stolen, and all of these ATM thefts are happening at Bank of America.
It started in May at the Bank of America on 14th Street. Since then, there have been four other instances.
The latest happened on Sunday. Money was also stolen from the bank on Fairmont Drive.
Undercover officers were deployed to the downtown branch, and in late September, two men were arrested.
“One suspect had $4,900 on his person at the time he was arrested,” San Leandro police Lt. Robert McManus said.
Forty-two-year-old Tremell Watts has not been criminally charged by the district attorney. But a follow up investigation is underway.
The other suspect, Blade Kittrell, had nearly $700 in his possession. The 23-year-old is in custody on $55,000 bail.
He’s being charged with identity theft, and fraudulent use of account information. Police said this is a nationwide trend.
Shoulder surfing happens when a thief stands in line, or at the ATM next to a customer, to see their pin. If the customer doesn’t close out the transaction, the thief walks over and withdraws more money.
Olu Ayanbajo said he was once a victim.
“They took over $6,000 from my account,” Ayanbajo said. “I went into the bank on Monday, and i had negative balance.”
One way to combat this is to be aware of your surroundings.
Authorities believe there could be a lot more victims that they don’t know about because while incidents are being reported to the bank, they’re not being reported to law enforcement.