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Little Yellow Box: The Targeting of Automatic Teller Machines as a Strategy in Reducing Street Robbery

NCJ Number
Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: 2005 Pages: 15-28
Tony Holt; Jon Spencer
Date Published
14 pages
This article reports on an evaluation of a pilot project in Manchester, England, that attempted to reduce robberies at and around ATMs (automatic teller machines) by creating personal defensible space for the users of selected ATMs.
Recorded 2001-02 crime data for Greater Manchester showed a 4.8-percent increase from the previous year. During the same period, recorded robbery increased 11.2 percent. Street robbery was concentrated in the pilot project area. Research on the location and modus operandi of street robbery suggested that one in four street crimes (robbery and snatch-type theft) apparently was geographically connected to ATMs. This research prompted the decision to create "a personal space zone" around a selected number of ATMs. This involved painting a 1-meter-square box on the pavement around the ATM to establish the ATM user's space and prevent unwanted attention, thus making the area more hostile to the offender. Based on this theoretical analysis of identifying the personal space of the ATM user, the project anticipated that the painted box in front of the ATM would change the behavior of street robbers. The project evaluation was conducted from December 21, 2002, to June 30, 2003. The same time period of the previous year was used for comparison data. Three sites were chosen from the 22 possible ATMs to test the null hypothesis that marking ATMs with personal defensible space would not make any difference in the incidence of robbery from persons within a 150-meter area of the ATM. The unmarked ATMs were control sites. The evaluation findings were significant. The mean reductions in robbery at the unmarked ATMs were from 22.5 to 16, while the marked sites' mean reductions were from 27 to 9. 2 figures, 2 tables, 12 notes, and 22 references