REI Boilerplate Response to the May 8th ATM/Loomis/Arrest Incident

On May 8th, 2009 I was arrested at the downtown Seattle REI after I took a picture of an open ATM then refused to show my ID to Loomis employees, REI security or Seattle Police officers Officer GE Abed (#6270) and Officer Debra Pelich (#5976). One week later, REI has responded with a boilerplate message to members and customers that had written in about the incident. Several people have forwarded me a copy of it. So, I’m sharing it here.

It’s worth noting that one week later, REI has not made an effort to contact me. I am a member. They have my phone number, email and mailing address. Even if they didn’t, my contact information is not hard to find. It’s also worth noting, even though REI is claiming that they “did not request a trespass to be invoked”, the police report says otherwise. Either REI or the Seattle Police is lying.

From: Public Affairs <>
Date: Fri, May 15, 2009 at 4:58 PM
Subject: REI Seattle


Thank you for your email and the opportunity to explain the incident that occurred between one of our customers and a security company servicing an ATM in our Seattle store. It is unfortunate that the situation escalated to the point that the police were called by the ATM security officers and the customer was detained by the police. At no time did REI detain the individual and we did not request a trespass to be invoked. We do not intend to enforce the trespass issued by police, and the customer is free to visit our store in the future.

We appreciate people sharing their varied points of view about what should or should not have happened at the store. We regret that the matter couldn’t be defused before the police became involved. One step we are taking is to discuss with the ATM security company ways to prevent the circumstances that led to this problem.

We value your membership in the co-op and hope to serve your outdoor needs in the future.

Megan Behrbaum
REI Public Affairs

So, there’s that. If anyone else gets a different response and cares to share it, I’ll publish it here. Thanks to everyone that has been supportive through this. And thank you to the people that shared your emails to REI with me.

Originally published at:

Of ATMs, iPhones… and 9/11?

I will be on the Dori Monson show today at Noon (Pacific Time). If you’re in the Seattle area, you can tune into 97.3 FM. On the internet you can listen from their website. To use their in-browser player, you will need to have Microsoft Silverlight installed (gross) or use Windows Media Player (also, gross). Alternately, you can use their streaming MP3 in any decent audio application (iTunes, I’m looking your way). You can call in toll free at (888) 973-5476. You can email into the show through their website, too.

Also, you can email me directly ( or on Twitter you can send me a direct message (if I’m following you) or @reply me.

I wrote an update that hopefully answers most the looming questions that commenters have.

Two Loomis Employees Refilling an ATM at the Downtown Seattle REI

Today I was shopping at the downtown Seattle REI. I was about to buy a Thule hitch mount bike rack. They were out of the piece that locks the bike rack into the hitch. So I was in the customer service line to special order one. It was a long line and while I was waiting, I saw two of guys (employees of Loomis, as I later learned) refilling the ATM.

I walked over and took a picture with my iPhone of them and more interestingly of the open ATM. I took the picture because I’m fascinated by the insides of things that we don’t normally get to see. I did not take the picture to case the joint. I did not take the picture to threaten the safety of the two Loomis fake cops with their bulletproof vests, hip side pistols and very fragile egos. I did not take the picture to make it easier for anyone else to rob this or any other ATM. I just like to see things that I don’t normally get to see. (Just like when I was in Vancouver, BC with Fall Out Boy, I got to see the stage being constructedand took pictures of it.)

They saw me take the picture. After they were done filling the machine with money, the one with the shaved head came over to me in line and said:

When you’re done over here, come talk to me.
No, thanks.
Don’t try to leave. I will tackle you.
No, you won’t.
I’ll call the cops.
I can’t stop you.

He went back to the ATM and conferred with his partner who was then making a call on his cell phone. My turn came up in line. I went to the counter. While ordering my part hitch lock at the desk, the real story started.

The Loomis guys wanted me to give them my ID so they could write a report about me for their bosses because I took the picture of them and the open ATM. The REI security people that had been called in by now wanted the same thing. I told them plainly that I’m not in the habit of giving my ID to people just because they want it, especially fake cops who put money in box and get to play at being real cops.

Their whole reason for freaking out at me is that they didn’t know who I am or what I planned on doing with that picture. I told them I didn’t particularly care what they did or did not about me or my intentions. All I did was take a picture of two people working with a machine out in the open in front of dozens of people. And besides, I’m sure if you spent a couple minutes searching Google, you could find pictures much higher quality, schematics, hacks… any number of things about ATMs. And again, this was being done in broad day light in front of dozens of people. Hardly trade secrets.

So… back to the Loomis guys, REI loss prevention officers and cops.

We go back and forth about why I took it and don’t see it as a problem versus why they think it’s somehow threatening their personal safety and their property’s safety. They’re trying to convince me to give my ID to the Loomis guys to write their report. I’m trying to convince them to go fuck themselves that I didn’t do anything illegal or otherwise wrong and that Loomis doesn’t have any jurisdiction to compel me to give them my ID. Round and round, over and over. Until…

Officer Debra Pelich (#5976)
Remember 9/11? I saw pictures of those buildings. One time when I was in Florida I was wandering around taking pictures. A security team came up and told me it was a high security restricted area. I wasn’t supposed to be taking pictures there. I explained that I didn’t know that, was a police officer, showed them my ID and complied with them. We cleared it up and I left.
Me (totally baffled)
Since you managed to pull the 9/11 card somehow, does that mean that everyone that took a picture of those buildings—

That was when Officer GE Abed (#6270) spun me around and put handcuffs on me. They took me out the back door to the loading garage, put me in the back of Seattle Police car #805. We sat there for a few minutes then they took me down to Seattle Police Department West Precinct. I sat in a holding cell for about 30 minutes still in cuffs.

After they were done filing their reports or whatever behind their two-way mirrored wall, Sergeant William Robertson came into the holding cell. He said basically all the same things that the Loomis duo, REI head loss prevention officer (Paula), Officer Debra Pelich and Officer GE Abed already said several times. We danced back and forth until I said I didn’t feel like talking around in circles again and asked if we were done.

He took me out of the cell and took off the cuffs, had me sign a “You have been trespassed by REI and can’t go back for a year” form then Officer Abed walked me out the door. And that was that.

A few things that happened that I thought were especially ironical were:

  1. As I was being cuffed another, REI customer took a picture of me and the cops with his iPhone (the same act that started this whole chain of events).
  2. After being worried about me taking a picture of the inside of an ATM, Officer Debra Pelich typed in the code to open the garage door to the police station right in front of me without hiding the keypad at all. Classic.
  3. They never wanted to see the picture or wanted me to delete it. (To me, that says this was never about sensitive information or whatever. It was all about power and exerting it.)

That was my day. How was yours?

By the way, if you’re the guy who took my photo as I was being cuffed, I would love to get a copy of that picture.

Update: I spent a minute googling around a minute this morning and found no shortage of pictures of ATM insides.

Monicomp who sells and services computer related peripherals and tools as well as those related to the banking industry include in their gallery not only the inside of an ATM, but also a printer and a monitor.

Nexus Connection have a picture of the inside of an “ATM” that dispenses gift cards.

CGI Direct ATM who’s been selling ATMs since 1995 has a picture of the inside of an ATM as part of their sales material. (They also provide technical information like how many of what kinds of ports they have, what operating system their running, what processor, etc)

Westfield provides maps with the locations of ATMs in its malls.

Outdoor ATM also has pictures of the insides of ATMs as part of their sales materials for: the Tranax MBS5000, the Qualtex Weathermaster Outdoor ATM, the Triton FT5000 and the Triton FT7000.

Even the manufacturers provide pictures of some of their ATM’s insides: Qualtex’s WeatherMaster insides and more inside slideout tray. Tranax’s Card Dispenser, Ticket Printer, Cencon Lock and Tranax MCDU Cash Dispenser. Triton’s cash dispensers, FT7000 (click the photos tab, then the 7th picture; stupid Flash gallery) and FT5000XP (also a Flash photo gallery, click photos then the 7th picture).

Update 2:

Update 3: My point being in the whole post, but especially the previous two updates, is that there is much more much higher quality data about everything that this was about already freely available… even from the manufacturers. So again, I don’t think this had to do with safety, security or trade secrets, but merely the exertion of power and the protection of its image.

Update 4: The commments have spiraled out of control, of course. So, I’ve switched it to requiring a login (which is totally free). Keep it classy, internet.

Update 5: I wrote an update that hopefully answers most the looming questions that commenters have.

Update 6: Lots of people have been asking if there’s any way to be supportive to me through this. First off, thank you so much for caring enough to care. Second, there are two very different things one could do to me help me out.

  1. Keep an eye on my blog and twitter account for future updates about the incident and where it’s going. Later on I might need a barrage of phone calls made or emails sent. I’m not sure yet.
  2. The other thing sounds really lame saying it out loud in front of other people, but… If you want to help me financially, I design and make shirts with my friend (Bookis). We sell them for $15 each. That would help me out quite a bit. (Sorry for the commercial break.)

Originally published at: