Robbers Use Bear Spray to Steal from Bitcoin ATMs

Siamak Masnavi
  • Two men in Texas (in the Dallas / Fort Worth area) are using bear spray to rob Bitcoin ATMs, and the police are looking for them.
  • In most previous cases of crime involving Bitcoin ATMs, the whole machine was stolen.   
  • As Bitcoin gains wider mainstream adoption and the number of Bitcoin ATMs around the world increases, these kinds of crime are bound to increase. 

Police in Texas, in the Dallas / Fort Worth metropolitan area, are looking for two men who used bear spray (a stronger form of pepper spray used to deter aggressive bears) to rob Bitcoin ATMs, machines that allow users to exchange fiat for bitcoin, and vice versa.

According to Dallas News, the criminals -- two men in their late 20s to early 30s -- committed their first robbery on March 22, 2018 in Irving, a suburb of Dallas, when they went into the convenience store at a gas station there, used bear spray to temporarily blind the clerk, so they could then use a crowbar to pry open the Bitcoin ATM.

The criminals then left the store with the ATM’s cash containers. You can watch the CCTV footage of the robbery on YouTube. The men used almost exactly the same modus operandi six days later, this time in Mesquite, another Dallas suburb.

The world's first Bitcoin ATM opened at a cafe in Vancouver Canada in October 2013. At the time, the price of one bitcoin was around $140. Today, at the time of writing, Bitcoin (BTC) is at around $8,900.

As the value of bitcoin continues to increase, criminals are realizing that these machines are likely to contain ever-increasing amounts of cash. Add to that the fact that they are usually not in very secure locations, such as banks, and so it is no surprise to see the number of attacks on such relatively easy targets increase.

Although these machines are usually referred to as Bitcoin ATMs or Bitcoin Teller Machines (BTMs), it is worth noting that the latest generation models, such as those from Bitcoin of America, can also be used for cash transactions involving other major cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

According to data from Bitcoin of America, the number of Bitcoin ATMs around the world has increased from around 450 in October 2015 to 1,590 just a couple of years later. 

Anyone with information regarding the robberies has been asked to contact Irving police at 972-273-1010 or [email protected]