Pepper Spray-Armed ATM Misfires, Shoots Workers

January 10, 2012 by staff 

Pepper Spray-Armed ATM Misfires, Shoots Workers, A South African bank has outfitted its ATMs with pepper spray to prevent criminals from bombing or tampering with the machines. But the system still has some bugs: One of the machines released its stinging payload on three maintenance workers last week.

Absa Bank, one of South Africa’s largest, installed the spray on 11 machines after someone bombed several of its ATMs last year, according to local news outlet Independent Online. They were installed in a region where authorities say they retrieved 40 skimmers from card machines last year.

If a camera on the machine detects someone tampering with the card slot in an attempt to install a skimming device or explosives, a mechanism installed at the ATM kiosk releases a cloudspray.

The hope is that the spray will disorient the culprit long enough to allow authorities to arrive at the scene. But during routine maintenance on one of the machines, three workers were maced instead and had to be treated.

The spray was installed on machines in the Western Cape, a popular tourist area.

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