A rash of attacks on and lootings of cash vans — roughly the equivalent of armored vans in the U.S. — has caused the government of India to propose banning the refilling ATMs with cash from late afternoon or the early evening, in some instances, The Economic Times reported early today (April 2). Such a move would greatly inconvenience both the public and the owners of ATMs.
The extent of the problem was highlighted 1n a report last November on NDTV, which said that “In Delhi’s biggest heist, an ATM cash van’s driver had fled with Rs. 22.5 crore — some 22,500,000,000.00 rupees, or $339,725,200. (A ‘crore’ is 10 million rupees. The U.S. dollar value of ¿100,000.000 rupees (one hundred million rupees) is presently nearly $1,509,889.)
It is entirely possible — and even likely — that the threat of late-day cash shortages in ATMs would cause customers to withdraw as many rupees as possible before 3 p.m. or 5 p.m. in rural areas or 8 pm. in cities — proposed times for machine-refilling cut-offs — to allow for by-cash shopping and entertainment later in the day.
This would, of course, shift the risk of robberies from protected vans to unprotected pedestrians!
The Economic Times didn’t explain what would have to happen for this rule to be put into effect. But it did add that the government’s proposal would not just limit when ATM’s could be ‘restocked,’ it would also place stringent physical requirements on cash vans and training rules on the people who man them. And, for good measure, on how cash being transported would need to be secured. Collectively, those rules surely would end up costing someone — a lot of someones — a great deal of money.
Cash vans would, under this proposal (or set or them, as it were) have to be specially designed — with both CCTV and GPS on board, they’d be limited to ¿50,000.000 rupees ($755,000) per trip, with separate, distinctly-secured sections for the cash and the staff, the former would have to be in containers chained to the floor “with keys entrusted to separate custodians”, and the latter would need to have 160 hours of training, before they could be assigned to a van, on “how to spot risks and threats, like being tailed be vehicle-borne criminals, insider’s threat [sic] and how to use weapons to deter and resist criminals while disengaging with the situation and driving [the] vehicle to safety.”
Individuals aspiring to drive or staff cash vans would need to produce, with their applications for employment, references from “two guarantors of good standing, including one serving or retired government servant”and. of course, have their ‘antecedents’ [history] police-checked.
And, further, cash vans would have to be secured in facilities “as per RBI [Reserve Bank of India, the rough equivalent of the U.S.’s Federal Reserve) norms and [be] fitted with CCTV [cameras].”
Sadly, pedestrian users of ATMs would remain as (un)protected as they are today from punks and professionals anxious to separate them from their cash.
Assuming they had the where-with-all to do so, the smart ones would pull their daily limit as early in the day as possible and ‘park’ what they don’t immediately off their person — leaving a pittance for a potential thug to make off with.
There was an occasion, many years ago, when I was the only person — on either side of or in a vehicle within — New York City’s 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, in the middle of an afternoon. This is a very heavily-trafficked area, in a city of some 7 million souls. Delhi’s population, at 9.8 million in 2013, was a bit larger then, with a lot of pedestrian traffic and way too many people- and gas-propelled vehicles on the streets.
(An average east-west New York City block is 750 ft. — close to 229 meters) ) from one [up and downtown] avenue to another. That avenue-avenue distance is the length of 7.5 American football fields, or 6.25 soccer fields.
(I cannot envision being all alone, the sole occupant of so much street, in Delhi. I continue to be amazed, nearly 30 years later, that ‘chance’ enabled me to be ‘the last — the only — man standing’ in such an expanse then.
My point: It’s hard to believe, with the population density of Delhi, that pedestrians could be robbed, alongside streets, in broad daylight, without someone raising a ruckus.
I’ve seen videos of Delhi traffic, but never witnessed it personally. My impression is that there’s an almost inorganic energy that controls, in what clearly appears to be, ‘organized chaos.’
If I was a cash van owner or driver in India, I would welcome the proposed rules. They could provide a level of protection that, clearly, doesn’t exist today.
But as a pedestrian ATM user, I’d be afraid — very afraid. And always asking for cash back when I used a charge card with a merchant.
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