Skimmers are electronic devices that can be fitted to the mouth of a card reader on an ATM or gas pump in order to capture credit and debit card information. Typically an external skimmer will look similar or nearly identical to the actual card reader, and can be accompanied by a fake keypad to capture PIN numbers. Other types of skimmers are mounted internally, making them nearly impossible to spot from the outside.
O’Fallon police have retrieved five devices in total, four found at gas stations and one on an ATM.
One of the first reported incidents involved the ATM at 2996 Hwy. K. Police say a man suspected of planting the skimmer was dropped off across the street near a closed-down business on Oct. 31 and made his way to the ATM, where he attached the device. O’Fallon police are circulating images of the suspect, which were captured when he returned to download information off the device later that day.
A second device was found at Circle K, and two more were found at Hucks on N. Main Street. The last device was found at the Fast Lane at 1001 Tom Ginnever Avenue. It is currently unknown if the cases are related.
The device found at Fast Lane was attached internally.
A release issued by the O’Fallon Police Department states that businesses have been asked to check their ATM machines and gas pumps to make sure no skimming devices have been installed.
“We contacted every gas station in the city and requested that they physically examine their pumps both externally and internally,” the release said. “Based on this recent crime trend, we would encourage people to use caution and individually decide how to pay for gas.”
Officer Melissa Doss with the St. Peters Police said her department found three skimmers – two external and one internal – over the course of the last month.
Doss said St. Peters Police contacted all the city’s gas stations and informed them on how to check for the devices, and “that we highly recommend they take new practices to protect their customers.”
St. Charles County police are not currently working any cases involving skimmers, and according to Cottleville Police Chief Brett Mitchell, neither is the city of Cottleville.
“Once we heard from other cities what was happening, I sent our patrol guys out to make contact with the banks and go to the ATMs and make sure the banks took a look at their ATMs to ensure that we didn’t have any issues,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the volume of identity thefts has not increased in Cottleville.
“I would not say that we have a big rash, or that there’s anything outside the realm of normal, and it is sad to say that is normal at all, but unfortunately it is,” Mitchell said.
At presstime, the cases in O’Fallon were still active.
Anyone with information or suspicion of skimming is asked to contact Det. Andrew Lubiewski at (636) 379-5664.