Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

Damaged ATM won't be replaced until May


Asa Thomas Metcalfe

The Citizen's Alliance Bank ATM has been out of order since being vandalized and damaged in February.

On the morning of February 4 a customer pulled up to the Citizens Alliance Bank in Seeley Lake and found it covered in spray paint, vandalized, and damaged. Police inspected the machine and gathered what little evidence was there, but the culprits had spray painted over the cameras as well and according to some sources they had obscured identifying markings on their vehicle.

Although they had obviously put some planning into the ATM robbery scheme, they never managed to access any of the cash inside and instead left the bank driveway having accomplished nothing.

"They didn't even get anything out of it," said branch manager, Cheryl Lewis. "They just damaged our machine, inconvenienced our customers, and cost us money."

Bank employees spent hours chipping at the paint and scrubbing away what they could of the would-be thieves' leftover carnage. But at the end of the day, the machine was too banged up to be considered operable.

It's been marked "Out of service" since then and sits, empty and without power until a replacement arrives. Which unfortunately for the people of Seeley Lake, a town with only one bank branch, isn't a very quick process.

"The thing about ATMs, is you can't just go to the ATM store," Lewis said, "There's a process to ordering the machine and then coordinating with the removal of the old one."

Citizens Alliance Bank is headquartered in Minnesota and the ATMs they use aren't manufactured in Montana. The Seeley Lake branch has been waiting for their replacement for over a month now, and although the branch expedited the process a little bit by opting for the same model instead of newer one, they still don't expect to see it until mid-May at the earliest.

"We had the option of upgrading it to one that would have some more features," Lewis said. "But we don't really feel that those are advantageous enough to cause people to wait another three to six months."

Asa Thomas Metcalfe

The Citizen's Alliance Bank sits inoperable with a ratchet strap securing the panels along the bottom.

As it is, bank customers have to resort to the third-party vendor machines which charge extra fees. Lewis expressed regret about customers having to pay fees and encouraged them to visit the bank branch during operating hours to avoid it.

"We're really hoping we can get it installed, up and running before Memorial Day and the start of the summer," said Lewis.

Despite the fruitless end of the crime, it isn't without consequence and the attempted robbery likely cost the vandals more in spray paint than they received for their efforts, but the headache it caused for the bank and local people outweighs the fortune of their failure.

"The amount of money that it's going to take to replace it, you know, that's a year's salary for somebody so that just ticks me off," Lewis said.


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