POLICE are urging the public to be on their guard as criminal gangs continue to target Gloucestershire cash machines.

The warning follows the sentencing of four Sri Lankan men who stole nearly £1,000 from several ATM machines throughout last summer.

Kusalakumar Sithambarapillai, Basheer Ebrahim, Ahok Balasubramanian and Thanfavel Vilvanadham, from Hayes and Croydon, inserted devices into ATM machines to trap cards and record PIN numbers.

The four all received prison sentences, but their conviction does continue a worrying trend of criminals targeting cash-points.

Last July three Romanians were jailed after admitting to stealing bank cards in the Gloucestershire area. Also a man stole hundreds of pounds from two elderly ladies in Wolverhampton last year, after he watched them enter their PINs, distracted them and snatched their cards.  

PC Annabel Brittain, who has investigated various cases, said:   “We will leave no stone unturned in investigating these crimes which often target vulnerable, elderly people.”

She also advised people to be very careful when using your card, as criminals will often exploit people’s good nature.

“Don’t be distracted from your valuables, keep your cards either in a secure inside pocket or a bag which fastens securely and don’t leave the bag unattended while you return your trolley” she added.