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Arrested for Taking Photo of ATM
Today I was shopping at the downtown Seattle REI. I was about to buy a Thule hitch mount bike rack. They were out of the piece that locks the bike rack into the hitch. So I was in the customer service line to special order one. It was a long line and while I was waiting, I saw two of guys (employees of Loomis, as I later learned) refilling the ATM.
I walked over and took a picture with my iPhone of them and more interestingly of the open ATM. I took the picture because I’m fascinated by the insides of things that we don’t normally get to see. I did not take the picture to case the joint. I did not take the picture to threaten the safety of the two Loomis fake cops with their bulletproof vests, hip side pistols and very fragile egos. I did not take the picture to make it easier for anyone else to rob this or any other ATM. I just like to see things that I don’t normally get to see. (Just like when I was in Vancouver, BC with Fall Out Boy, I got to see the stage being constructed… and took pictures of it.)
They saw me take the picture. After they were done filling the machine with money, the one with the shaved head came over to me in line and said:
- When you’re done over here, come talk to me.
- No, thanks.
- Don’t try to leave. I will tackle you.
- No, you won’t.
- I’ll call the cops.
- I can’t stop you.
He went back to the ATM and conferred with his partner who was then making a call on his cell phone. My turn came up in line. I went to the counter. While ordering my part hitch lock at the desk, the real story started.
The Loomis guys wanted me to give them my ID so they could write a report about me for their bosses because I took the picture of them and the open ATM. The REI security people that had been called in by now wanted the same thing. I told them plainly that I’m not in the habit of giving my ID to people just because they want it, especially fake cops who put money in box and get to play at being real cops.
Their whole reason for freaking out at me is that they didn’t know who I am or what I planned on doing with that picture. I told them I didn’t particularly care what they did or did not about me or my intentions. All I did was take a picture of two people working with a machine out in the open in front of dozens of people. And besides, I’m sure if you spent a couple minutes searching Google, you could find pictures much higher quality, schematics, hacks… any number of things about ATMs. And again, this was being done in broad day light in front of dozens of people. Hardly trade secrets.
So… back to the Loomis guys, REI loss prevention officers and cops.
We go back and forth about why I took it and don’t see it as a problem versus why they think it’s somehow threatening their personal safety and their property’s safety. They’re trying to convince me to give my ID to the Loomis guys to write their report. I’m trying to convince them to go fuck themselves that I didn’t do anything illegal or otherwise wrong and that Loomis doesn’t have any jurisdiction to compel me to give them my ID. Round and round, over and over. Until…
That was when Officer GE Abed (#6270) spun me around and put handcuffs on me. They took me out the back door to the loading garage, put me in the back of Seattle Police car #805. We sat there for a few minutes then they took me down to Seattle Police Department West Precinct. I sat in a holding cell for about 30 minutes still in cuffs.
After they were done filing their reports or whatever behind their two-way mirrored wall, Sergeant William Robertson came into the holding cell. He said basically all the same things that the Loomis duo, REI head loss prevention officer (Paula), Officer Debra Pelich and Officer GE Abed already said several times. We danced back and forth until I said I didn’t feel like talking around in circles again and asked if we were done.
He took me out of the cell and took off the cuffs, had me sign a “You have been trespassed by REI and can’t go back for a year” form then Officer Abed walked me out the door. And that was that.
A few things that happened that I thought were especially ironical were:
That was my day. How was yours?
By the way, if you’re the guy who took my photo as I was being cuffed, I would love to get a copy of that picture.
Monicomp who sells and services computer related peripherals and tools as well as those related to the banking industry include in their gallery not only the inside of an ATM, but also a printer and a monitor.
CGI Direct ATM who’s been selling ATMs since 1995 has a picture of the inside of an ATM as part of their sales material. (They also provide technical information like how many of what kinds of ports they have, what operating system their running, what processor, etc)
Westfield provides maps with the locations of ATMs in its malls.
Even the manufacturers provide pictures of some of their ATM’s insides: Qualtex’s WeatherMaster insides and more inside slideout tray. Tranax’s Card Dispenser, Ticket Printer, Cencon Lock and Tranax MCDU Cash Dispenser. Triton’s cash dispensers, FT7000 (click the photos tab, then the 7th picture; stupid Flash gallery) and FT5000XP (also a Flash photo gallery, click photos then the 7th picture).
Update 3: My point being in the whole post, but especially the previous two updates, is that there is much more much higher quality data about everything that this was about already freely available… even from the manufacturers. So again, I don’t think this had to do with safety, security or trade secrets, but merely the exertion of power and the protection of its image.
Update 4: The commments have spiraled out of control, of course. So, I’ve switched it to requiring a wordpress.com login (which is totally free). Keep it classy, internet.
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