By Jennifer McGraw

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — More than $1 million has been stolen from local residents in just the past year at the gas pump and at ATMs.

“It’s not a question of if, it’s when it’s going to happen to you because it’s just so prevalent,” said Detective Matt Deaux with the sheriff’s department.

The High Tech Crimes Task Force gets 300 to 400 cases each month. Investigators said the thieves getting crafty at ripping credit and debit card users.

“They basically designed it so it blends in with the ATM,” he said. “Devices are getting smaller and more compact, and now you have Bluetooth to where I don’t even have to go back to the device that they put the skimmer on in the first place.”

While it may appear to look normal, the ATM could have a cover over the card reader, and it’s actually a fake. Inside is a hidden camera that could capture your digits.

“It will get the card number along with your pin information, so they’ll have everything they need to re-create your ATM card,” Deaux said.

Next time you’re at the ATM, investigators say if it looks suspicious to give it a tug. If it comes off, it’s a fake.

“They just use double-sided tape, and it just sticks over the top,” he said.

The crooks are getting away with big bucks.

“Depending on the locations that they hit, they can get $20,000 to $60,000 for a weekend,” Deaux added.

In some cases, he says organized criminals are coming from out of the country and hitting city after city.

“When you have that many jurisdictions involved it makes any kind of communications between law-enforcement that much harder,” he said.

Which is why Deaux is hoping for the public’s help spotting these high tech tools used to commit the crimes.

Unfortunately, at the gas station, you can’t actually see if the card reader has been tampered with because it’s inside the machine.

That’s why investigators say it’s best to use only cash or a credit card at the pump and make sure you always protect your pin.

Remember, a tiny camera could be watching.

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