Thursday was a different kind of getting to know London - the getting to know the police side of London. I went on line to do some banking on Thursday and discovered that some enterprising soul had recreated our ATM card and cleaned out our checking account. Not a happy discovery. Neither of us has misplaced our cards even for a few minutes - we put them in our room safe if they're not physically on us. In reporting the crime to the police, though, I learned that a fairly common trick here is to put a scanning device inside a legitimate ATM machine along with a small camera aimed at capturing PIN numbers. We think that's what happened. I asked the police officer what to look for and he said that they are so sophisticated you wouldn't be able to detect it even if you were looking.
So here's what we've learned:
1. Only use ATM machines inside banks. The one where our information was stolen is on a street corner, which makes it very easy for someone to install this stuff undetected.
2. Check your bank accounts on line at least every couple of days. I went six days without checking and that was way too long.
3. Don't keep all your eggs in one basket. Here's where we went right - while we lost way more money than I even want to think about, our savings is in accounts not linked to an ATM card.
We now have mountains of paperwork to fill out with our bank disputing the withdrawals and we are hoping for the best. The police officer was friendly and sympathetic, but said that the amount was too small to attract any serious attention. He said normally with crimes of this size it's the bank that investigates to try to recover the funds. I then heard quite a bit about his opinions of the criminal justice system in the U.K. and how much he admires the 3 strikes laws in the U.S.