Precision Switching Products & Linear Position Sensors

CPI Thermals Do Their Part to Thwart Bank Robbers

In the good-old days, your basic bank heist required little more than some nerves of steel, a simple disguise, and a handwritten note demanding cash. Indeed as recently as 1992 in cities like Los Angeles and New York, there were sometimes dozens of robberies every day, netting criminals millions of dollars a year. But over time those numbers have diminished nationally due to a combination of factors. These include the digitization of security systems and surveillance, stiffer jail sentences, and better cash management protocols which have greatly reduced the amount of money netted in a typical heist. Given that in modern law enforcement, your chances of getting away with an old-fashioned robbery are almost zero, face-to-face robbery just doesn’t pay anymore.

But for some criminals, bank robbery has evolved. It seems that the temptation of that big ATM machine just sitting there with tens of thousands of dollars in cash in it, is just too much to bear. This temptation has given rise to some of the more creative criminal endeavors including everything from simple ATM card fraud, to mission impossible style incursions into the bank ATM through the roof, to folks ramming large trucks into ATM machines in an effort to dislodge them from their moorings where they can be dragged away.

It turns out that in the latter scenario, CPI Thermals have a part to play in keeping all our money safe. ATM thieves beware!

The Plasma Cutter Method

One of the many security methods put in place by ATM providers has been the use of bollards as shown below.  These concrete or metal posts act as an anchoring points and protection for the ATM against the onslaught of a vehicle aimed at knocking it loose. The Bollards are strong and rigid and protect the ATM from absorbing the full brunt of the force from the vehicle making it extremely difficult for thieves to jar the machine loose with one shot.  This means police have more time to respond and generally this does a good job deterring thieves from taking a run at that particular ATM.


Lest you thought the ATM robbery story ended there, enter the plasma Torch. These specialized welding torches use electricity and oxygen ionize a gas and turn it into pure plasma.  The ejected burning plasma arc can achieve temperatures of up to 25,000 degrees Celsius (P.S. It’s only a little over 5000C on the surface of the sun). This arc temperature can cut through steel like butter, and it turns out that bollards aren’t much of a challenge for it either. As an added bonus, something like a plasma torch will be required to cut through the solid steel cash box as well, if you can do it without setting fire to all that hard stolen money.

Enter CPI Thermal Switches

In the never-ending game of one-upmanship, ATM security experts realized that if they could detect an increase in heat inside a bollard, it could act as an early warning system against a robbery attempt. Loud alarms can be triggered and automatic notifications sent to local police forces. What a perfect application for CPI Thermal Switches!

Chosen for this application is one of our surface mount thermal switches like the CPI AD069. This is an all stainless steel version of our bimetallic thermal switches, able to reliably provide local switch closure between 0F and 300F. This switch is part of the SnapStat family of CPI switches, a group of bi-metallic thermal switches with a variety of different mounting options and even hermetically sealed versions.

In the bollard application, the switch is mounted inside the bollard during manufacturing. Because the switch is completely sealed, it can literally have concrete poured around it and its sealed wires lead internally from the bollard to the alarm system, usually routed deep underground. Switches are thermally attached to the inside of the steel cover of the bollard in several places so that heat distribution is not a factor. Set point is somewhere between 120 and 150F, high enough to allow for the hot California sun but low enough to provide a trigger in the event of use of a torch cutter. The switch is completely invisible to thieves, and the alarms triggered give cops a much needed jump on catching our robbers red handed.

CPI Thermal Switches Save Your Money – Literally!

Saving you money is not a Thermal Switch attribute we usually highlight, but in in this case it is perfectly true!  The real message here however, is about the reliability, durability and versatility of our entire line of thermal switches. Put them in an oven or over a galley stove. Mount them on a steam pipe. Encase them in concrete, or use them to detect freezing temperatures in a windmill in the Arctic.

Whatever application you choose, the buck stops with CPI Thermal Switches. To learn more, call us today or visit our website at:

Make The "Switch" to CPI

If your momentary switch application demands high performance, we think you should demand CPI. Please call us today to speak with our engineering team about your needs.

(973) 887-9400