Gardaí in Athlone are urging people to be very cautious, both when using an ATM and during the period directly afterwards, following the theft of a large sum of money from a woman's bank account.
More than €4,000 was taken from the woman's account after she was observed withdrawing money from an ATM in the town and then distracted while her card was stolen.
The woman was observed entering her PIN code at an ATM around midday on Tuesday (April 23). She was then followed to Lidl where one person engaged her in conversation as a distraction ploy while another person stole two bank cards from her.
Over the following two hours the perpetrators used her card in several shops in Athlone, as well as a post office, racking up more than €4,000 in transactions and withdrawals before the card was cancelled.
Sgt Andrew Haran from Athlone Garda Station says the events took place in a very short space of time, and is urging members of the public to be “extremely cautious”.
“The important advice to get out is for people to be cautious – both when taking money out of an ATM, that you cover the number pad and make sure that no one is looking over your shoulder, and when engaged in conversation, apparently informally, by people unknown to you. This card theft happened in a shop, but it could just as easily happen in the street as the woman was followed from the ATM.
“If you are engaged in conversation by people you don't know, be conscious at all times of where your valuables are.”
Gardaí are examining CCTV footage from a number of outlets as part of their investigation into Tuesday's incident. Anyone with any information that might help Gardaí is asked to contact Athlone Garda Station on 090 6498550.