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Woman robbed at knifepoint at ATM
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
A Beaumont woman says she didn't think twice about withdrawing cash from her usual ATM Wednesday night, until a man confronted her at knifepoint.
Bertha Montoya went to the Chase Bank ATM on Washington Boulevard at around 7:30 p.m. After withdrawing money from her account, she walked back to her vehicle, where a robber was waiting.
"The man took out a knife, a big one like this," said Montoya, placing her hands a little less than one foot apart. "He said, 'give me the money, because I have a knife.' I said, 'okay, okay.'"
Montoya handed over the money she'd withdrawn.
"In that moment I did not think about the money, I thought about myself and my two kids," said Montoya. "More than anything I was scared for my life. You know with money, sometimes you have it and sometimes you don't, but you can never get your life back."
Montoya says she's grateful her two kids weren't with her that night. The man took the money and ran, so Montoya pulled out her phone to call 911.
"He came back and told me, 'don't call the police! Don't call the police!'" said Montoya, "but I had locked myself in my car."
After the man left, Montoya flagged down a passing patrol car by honking. The officer drove up, and she told him what had happened.
"And we found him a very short distance down the road," said Sergeant Rob Flores. "He had the same amount of money that the victim had withdrawn from the account, and she actually positively identified him as the man who robbed her."
Sergeant Rob Flores with the Beaumont Police Department says there have been fewer robberies and aggravated robberies this year compared to the same time last year. From January 1-17, 2013, there were 5 robberies and 11 aggravated robberies. From January 1-17, 2014, there have been 4 robberies and 8 aggravated robberies. Flores says there were also fewer robberies in 2013 than in 2012. Even so, Flores says it's crucial for people to be aware of their surroundings, especially when at the ATM.
"When you walk up to an ATM, you're at a heightened risk for becoming a victim of a robbery," said Flores. "For a couple of reasons, first of all, the robber knows you're going to have money in just a few seconds. Plus, he knows you're going to be preoccupied, focused on that withdrawal instead of your surroundings."
Sergeant Flores says drive-up ATM's are safer than walk-up ATM's. Also, make ATM withdrawals during the day and bring a friend if you have to go at night. You can also go to an ATM inside a grocery store.
"All of us have a to-do list for the day and some of us even write that down. Well, number one on your to-do list should be get home safely," said Flores.
Montoya says she's never going back to an ATM at night.