Deputy Superintendent of Police Serafin Dias told  that the direction to banks to upgrade their ATM security protocols was given at a meeting with bank managers in the state last week.

The banks were also asked to consider closing down unguarded cash dispensing machines, especially in rural areas. "We have asked them to upgrade their security protocols and ensure that most ATMs have security guards stationed outside the kiosks. In places where guards are not posted, especially in rural and semi-urban areas, we have advised them to shut down the ATMs for the time being as a precaution," Dias said.

The first reported incident of sophisticated ATM theft occurred in January this year at the local branch of Dena Bank. Since then ATMs belonging to other banks, including ICICI and Axis, have been "skimmed" remotely, police claim, blaming an international racket.

Skimming involves insertion of a slim gadget into the ATM card slot, which memorises the ATM card users account and pin number. The same are then fed into a duplicate ATM card and money is then accessed remotely.

The police are also in the process of scanning through CCTV footage from ATM kiosks which were targeted by the racketeers.

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