Skimming devices found at retailers, ATMs Petaluma police warn consumers

Petaluma Police have a warning for the public. They said four skimming devices used to steal ATM and credit card information have been found at several businesses and that there are likely more out there. 

Sergeant Paul Gilman showed a KTVU crew two of the four skimming devices found since Saturday at businesses in the downtown area. They were found at 7-Eleven stores by employees Monday morning.

Police said thieves placed them over the stores' card readers to steal ATM and credit card information when customers swipe their cards. 

Sgt. Gilman held up one of the skimming devices and said,"When you turn it over, this is the machine that records all the information that's going in." It's information taken from the magnetic strips of bank cards. 

Police said even though the devices were located near the cashier, thieves likely distracted the employee when installing them.  

"It's startling because my debit card has been compromised more than a few times and I have to go get a new card every time," said Susie McMahon of Petaluma. She said her ATM card number has been stolen six times in the last six months and she says she doesn't know how thieves got her card information. 

"It's a shame this is happening. I don't know what the answer is," said McMahon. 

Police said a different type of skimming device was also found at two ATM's at the Bank of America on Kentucky Street by an alert technician on Saturday. This time, thieves inserted the skimmers inside the ATM machines and placed two cameras overhead to record customers punching in their PIN digits.

"It makes me shocked. It makes me not want to use ATMs. Is there any way to tell when they're compromised?" said Patricia Ballard of Petaluma.  

Police advise customers to do a visual and physical inspection of card readers. If there are alignment issues or broken seals, do not use the machine.  
Investigators said chip readers or devices where customers tap their cards are more secure because those cards are harder to reproduce.

Police said so far, no one has come forward to say their card has been used fraudulently, or that money has been taken out of their account. Investigators said the information stolen does not appear to have gotten into the hands of thieves. They said the same crew may be responsible for the devices found here at 7-Eleven and at the bank.  

Police suspect there are more of these skimming machines at businesses that have not yet been detected.  

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on facebook @AmberKTVU,  instagram @AmberKTVU  or twitter @AmberKTVU