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3 Robbed at ATMs Near Institute

By Hyun Soo Kim
News Editor

Three robberies of customers at automatic teller machines on the outskirts of campus have occurred in the last week. Two of the robberies involved MIT students or people affiliated with MIT.

Robberies took place at the Baybank ATM at 226 Main St. in Kendall Square, the Baybank ATM on Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street, and the Baybank ATM at Third Street and Broadway.

Eric D. Kupferberg G was robbed at gunpoint after completing a transaction at the Kendall Square ATM last Friday at 5 p.m.

The robber was in the lobby of the ATM, Kupferberg said. A number of people were in line ahead of Kupferberg. After the other people made their transactions, they turned left and headed towards the subway and into Kendall Square, he said.

"I suspected that something was wrong at the ATM. The assailant was neither making a deposit or withdrawal, only watching what others did for five minutes or more. He was particularly interested in noticing people when they left," Kupferberg said.

After making his transaction, Kupferberg left the ATM lobby and turned right, heading into the Sloan School parking lot, which was more isolated. The robber followed him.

"I became aware that he was following me when I was 15 steps outside of the bank. When I turned the corner to the Sloan lot, and he followed, I knew that I was in danger," Kupferberg said. Kupferberg then started running to Building E56, but the robber "ran and caught up quickly."

The robber showed Kupferberg the barrel of a gun and pointed it to his side. The robber also asked how much Kupferberg had withdrawn. When told $30, the robber escorted the student back to the ATM where Kupferberg was forced to withdraw $500, the most that one can withdraw from an ATM. "When he demanded that I return to the bank he had the gun hidden under his jacket," Kupferberg said.

The robber then instructed Kupferberg to walk 15 steps to the right, and the robber walked the other way. Kupferberg immediately notified the Campus Police and the Cambridge Police. Kupferberg was not injured.

"No one noticed in the parking lot that my hands were up in the air, wallet in one hand and money in the other. During the time we were in the lot, two cars drove by," Kupferberg said.

Last Friday was dark and rainy and visibility was low, Kupferberg said. But "I am incredulous that this occurred with a great number of people around. It is only my guess that they did not notice what was occurring in front of them," he said.

The suspect was calm, polite, well-spoken, and apologized for robbing him, Kupferberg said.

Baybank will compensate Kupferberg "as an act of good will" even though they are not insured against ATM robberies, he said.

Same suspect responsible

The robbery at the Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street ATM occurred on Sunday, and the Third Street and Broadway ATM robbery occurred two days later. The victim of the robbery at Third Street and Broadway was MIT-affiliated. The Cambridge Police is investigating the cases because the crimes occurred in their jurisdiction.

The same suspect is probably responsible for all three robberies, according to Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin.

The victims have described the suspect as a black male, between 6 feet, 2 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 170 to 190 pounds.

Kupferberg said that he saw the suspect again on Monday near the Kendall Square ATM. The suspect was wearing the same woolen knit hat he wore on Friday, Kupferberg said.

None of the victims were physically harmed in the robberies.

ATM safety tips

The Campus Police has reissued a bulletin on ATM safety tips. "We haven't had problems on campus ATMs, but we would urge caution. You never know when problems may crop up," Glavin said.

"These types of crimes are common," Glavin said. "We give out prevention tips all the time, but there is just a rash of them at this time."

"People should be careful no matter what time it is. There is no way you can identify this person upfront, so be cautious no matter what time it is," Glavin said.

"My suggestion is that if you see someone suspicious, leave the ATM immediately, saying that you forgot the ATM card," Kupferberg said.

Glavin also suggested that people stay away from more isolated ATMs and go to one where there are more people and activity around.