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'Shoulder-surfing' ATM thieves target late-night tourists

GARDAI are alarmed at a recent spate of 'shoulder surfing' in the city -- whereby thieves peer over your shoulder to steal your cashcard code number.

A number of tourists have been targeted by foreign criminals who stalk busy ATM machines at night.

Sources say the thieves, many of whom operate in groups, monitor people inserting their ATM number before attempting to mug them.

And the Herald can reveal that shoulder-surfing peaks between 11pm and midnight.


Gardai believe incidents increase significantly during this timeframe because thieves hit ATM machines both sides of midnight.

"Thieves steal ATM cards during this timeframe so that they can max people's accounts to their limit before midnight and after," a source said.

"Often people have had thousands of euros taken before they even realise."

Temple Bar and Dame Street have been targeted by shoulder surfers in recent weeks.

Tourists are particularly vulnerable to the thieves, who use a range of different tactics to relieve victims of their ATM cards.

As well as shoulder surfing, the latest street crime epidemic has seen other different methods being used.

These include:

•Help the drunk -- Female thieves snatch phones and money as they 'help' people into taxis after a night out.

•Honeytraps -- Men are lured into laneways by thieves offering cheap sexual services, but are instead mugged.

•Hugging mugging -- Thieves dance and perform party tricks around their victims in order to distract them.

"The type of tactics employed are very new and a lot of them have been imported from abroad. These guys are so innovative that people often go hours without realising they've been targeted," a source said.

Writing last week in the Herald, the Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, vowed to ensure that gardai are given the necessary back-up to tackle street crime.

"We should be vigilant in our neighbourhoods, implement protective measures in our homes and report incidents to the gardai.


"No government can promise to end crime completely as there will, unfortunately, always be people in our society who engage in criminal activity," he went on.

"What we can do as a Government and, in particular, what I can do as Minister for Justice, is ensure that our criminal law is effective and that gardai get the back-up and support they require to carry out their duties and protect the community," he added.