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Northern NJ Banks Find Ways to Remove Homeless From Their Overnight ATM Lobbies

New Jersey

On early Sunday morning in Newark's Central Ward, police responded to the Bank of America located at 1 Springfield Avenue to investigate callers' complaints of a suspicious male inside the ATM lobby.

Units arrived at the scene and reportedly found a homeless male sleeping soundly in the 24-hour vestibules. Police say while attempting to awake the male, he began to argue with officers but then quickly took his belonging and exited the bank.

Officials at some of Northern New Jersey's major banks have reported that the issue is becoming more of a nuisance to their customers and a health issue as some of the homeless leave bodily fluid, drug paraphernalia and trash for dayside employees to clean up.

Officials at one bank in East Orange told RLS Media that the homeless continuously intimidate their overnight ATM customers and damage bank property

Banks in several areas in downtown Newark affected by the situation make several attempts to have homeless occupants removed for cash-machine lobbies by roving security patrols, but this has proven difficult and sometimes dangerous as verbal altercations sometimes escalate into assaults, according to police.

Security officers doing exterior checks of the banks locate homeless occupants inside the lobbies then inform them that they are not allowed to stay, but when the guards leave, they come right back, police said.

Officials at several banks in Paterson said the homeless rarely harm their customers and there are few reports of them robbing or assaulting patrons.

Bank officials and their customers consider the homeless, who sleep or panhandle inside the vestibules, a nuisance.

"Usually, when asked to leave the bank, they cooperate, but there have been several occasions where homeless become aggressive and violent to customers who refuse to give them money or those disturbing their sleep while making an ATM transaction."

Newark resident Tim Brown, 35, a Bank of America customer, said he often withdraws money from the Springfield Avenue automated teller machine with as many as five homeless people looking over his shoulder.

"It becomes scary, but these guys are the ’normals’ inside the lobby, so that eases me because all they want is a dollar or some want a warm place to sleep. I can understand why one would be concerned about using the lobby why the homeless are there though"

Northern NJ bank officials said they would not turn the issue into a legal matter but rather resolve the problem by turning for help to several homeless advocacy organizations.