Central Coast authorities are urging residents to be cautious when using ATMs after a knife incident in Orcutt.
According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, a suspect armed with a knife approached a person using a Wells Fargo ATM around 2 p.m. Nov. 7.
The suspect, identified as Michael Fernandez, 23, was allegedly armed with a 12-inch kitchen knife. The man using the ATM fled on foot, leaving his card in the machine.
Deputies had already been searching for the suspect after a report of a suspicious person in the area of Ken Avenue, possibly under the influence of a controlled substance. They soon located and arrested Fernandez, who was found to be in possession of methamphetamine, according to a news release.
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He was booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail on several felony and misdemeanor charges. He is being held on $40,000 bail.
The Sheriff’s Office said this “serves as reminder of the importance of reporting suspicious activity in and around your neighborhoods and businesses,” and it offered the following tips for safely using the machines.
▪ Keep spare deposit slips and envelopes at home. Complete any paperwork before going to the ATM area.
▪ Do not use ATMs near the corners of buildings. Do not use ATMs that provide other avenues for suspects to approach unnoticed. Do not use ATMs that have nearby hiding places or that do not have adequate security lighting.
▪ Be alert when approaching and while using an ATM. Appear confident and look slowly around the area as you approach. Routinely look around while interacting with the ATM. Look for people sitting in cars or loitering in the area. If you feel nervous or uncomfortable at any point, follow your instincts, avoid the ATM, cancel the transaction or leave immediately.
▪ Do not carry money or envelopes in open view to the ATM. Do not count money at the ATM. Put it away, and leave immediately upon completion of your transaction. Remain alert and continue to look around the area. Do not remain in your vehicle after using an ATM. Leave immediately.