Lessons from the Car Wash Bandit: How Owners Can Protect Their Cash

Please share this story:

An old proverb states, “Opportunity makes a thief.” One man has certainly seen an opportunity, and he probably realized it while washing his car.

You may have heard of bank, store, and gas station robbers . . . But what about a car wash robber?

The Car Wash Bandit is what he’s been dubbed, and he has made a hefty profit from his criminal undertakings.

But what can be done to deter criminals from similar acts?

Who Is the Car Wash Bandit?

The bandit is a Caucasian male estimated to be in his fifties or sixties.

The Car Wash Bandit has stolen from several automatic car washes in five states. By using a laminated $20 bill and some fishing line, he has stolen thousands of dollars from coin bays or vacuum doors in his journey across the states.

He is still at large.

How Can Car Wash Owners Protect Their Funds?

Protecting money, especially funds stored in an outside automated machine, requires extra security.


CCTV cameras have proven especially useful in deterring criminals, but entrepreneurs must carefully decide what type is best for their company.

Jennifer and Allen Spears of CarWashCameras.com recommend IP68-rated cameras, which will be able to withstand a carwash’s environment. DVRs and infrared cameras are also helpful.


With hackers constantly finding new ways to attack technology, it’s important that car wash owners continually update their devices. Security devices should be updated at least every three years.

Likewise, virus and malware protection are a must-have, especially considering the recent discovery that hackers can control wash systems and harm customers.


One aspect that many shop owners forget is lighting, and it can be a great preventive measure against theft of machines.

While some studies indicate well-lit streets enjoy less theft, owners can take this security a step further. Timers create the illusion that someone is home-or, in a business’s case, that someone is watching.

Keep the area around the machine well-lit and consider motion sensor detectors or timed lights.


Of course, we can’t forget alarms. Nowadays, sensors can be added to payment terminals so that if any tampering is detected, it will notify police and set off a very loud alarm.

Consider Unlimited

“Avoiding cash altogether can also decrease crime,” states a Washify employee.

Many new-age car washes are turning to this type of system, which has consumers sign up for services and then provides them with a barcode. When customers enter the wash, the bar code allows owners to deduct payments from their credit cards.

Of course, that does mean encryption and secure resources are necessary for data protection, too.

Keeping It Clean

Although the Car Wash Bandit is still running amok, car wash owners are not without their choices for beefing up security. And while thousands of dollars have been lost, perhaps other entrepreneurs can learn a lesson from one thief who continues to steal quietly away into the night.

Previous articleSkincare Tips for Office Workers and Executives
Next article5 Expert Tips to Manage Online Reputation for Businesses
Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.