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Thieves target ATMs across Maryland, frustrate small business owners and demand action – CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Cheeky ATM thefts have become common throughout Baltimore and beyond, with thieves breaking into businesses just minutes to get what they see as easy money — and rarely getting caught. .

WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren spoke to a small business owner about the impact and what is being done about it. She operated a gas station on Reisterstown Road, which was attacked shortly after 5 a.m. on December 18.

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Surveillance video shows trucks smashing in front of a convenience store. (Photo provided by property owner)

“They came in. They broke in. They had people waiting outside who could get the ATM. They got out very quickly — very, very quickly. It was a very professional, organized crime. The guys. They know what they’re doing,” the victim, who didn’t want to share her name, told Hellgren.

The incident was captured on multiple cameras. A stolen truck crashed through the entrance five times.

Thieves did the same to dozens of businesses across the city.

Van and the suspect outside the store. (Photo provided by property owner)

“We read about it, and we were shocked. But it still doesn’t prepare you when it happens to you,” said the owner.

Her agent was inside at the time – just a few feet away – and powerless to stop the crime.

You see the car pull up. Several people got out, ready to direct the driver and grabbed the cash machine as he hit the gas and crashed through a wall.

“There are glasses everywhere. They bumped into one of the steel columns. That could cause the building to collapse. Their faces are covered. After the fact, it is very difficult to catch them,” said the owner.

In the end, the thieves were able to knock down the ATM. They quickly loaded it into the car and drove away.

Total time from start to finish: 2 minutes 16 seconds.

The suspect was carrying an ATM machine. (Photo provided by property owner)

Nearly two months later, still no one has been arrested.

“They are not afraid of being caught,” said the gas station owner.

Baltimore City police said they were sending a detective in each county to solve the problem, and ATM thefts were generally down in 2021 from the year before.

But that’s little consolation for those left with holes in their stores. “It’s hard to know what they’re doing because we don’t get any updates. I can’t even comment on what they’re doing because I have no idea”.

Crime doesn’t just happen in the city of Baltimore but in Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Anne Arundel counties and in other hotspots across the country — from Texas to California.

This is the report of a task force to prevent ATM theft in Texas.

Occasion, The Justice Department has been involved in the prosecutions.

The types of trucks and vans used are typically late-model Fords and Chevys. They are often stolen and then thrown away with the ATM casings left inside.

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“A good part of it is done by organized crime. They have a well-trained and experienced team,” David Tente of the ATM Industry Association, a non-profit industry group said. “Crimes are increasing; criminals are not prosecuted. “

He said some big banks are incorporating dye packs and trackers as security devices, but noted that they can be costly for smaller businesses.

“Time is [the suspects’] so you can do whatever you can to slow them down,” says Tente. “…They have a trained and experienced crew so a lot of these offenses only take two, three or four minutes, so it’s not something they’ve done for the first time.”

Tente’s team is building a nationwide database of thefts that won’t be made available to the public but business owners with ATMs can access.

“There’s never been anything like this before,” he said.

Tente told Hellgren that it’s important to keep track of when and where ATM break-ins happen.

“The bigger banks can follow but for small businesses, chances are they don’t know about it,” he said.

The organization is also pushing for tougher penalties.

“It is a property crime. So even if that ATM had $5,000 in it and the crook took all of it, you could have stolen six packs of beer from the store because prosecution would have made no difference. ,” he said.

But in Maryland, there have been several felony arrests – including Kirk Parker Jr.

Parker was an employee of the City of Baltimore.

According to court records obtained by WJZ, he used a city-owned truck to break into an ATM in Owings Mills. He covered the Baltimore logos with duct tape.

Below are the documents gathered from the Parker case, which is ongoing.

Exxon losses because of ATM thieves. (Photo via Mike Hellgren/WJZ)

In November, Baltimore police confiscated the cell phone of a teenager accused of an ATM theft at a convenience store near Druid Hill Park. They were able to arrest 18-year-old Said Hamza after he fled through a hole where a truck crashed through the wall of a corner shop on Orem Avenue.

“Right now, it looks like they’re just playing catch up with criminals,” said the owner of Reisterstown Road. “It always caught up and we didn’t catch it before the game. And it happens so often that I feel the need for some proactive response. ”

Back at her gas station, the damage was still unrepaired. She told Hellgren Covid-19 has made finding contractors difficult.

“Contractors are very supportive, so it takes a long time. It’s been over a month, and we’re still waiting for it to be fixed,” she said. “…People don’t want to walk into a store that has retail prices included, so it’s taken a hit. financially.”

Install guard posts outside damaged gas station. (Photo via Mike Hellgren/WJZ)

But the thefts continued: At least three nearby businesses were also attacked, including an ATM theft at Exxon on Reisterstown and Northern Parkway.

Underneath the roadway, the owner is planting metal stakes filled with concrete to protect her shop. Her ATM hasn’t come back up yet and she’s not sure where her breaking point will be.

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“Insurance will increase specifically for all affected stations in the area, so we have to analyze: Is it worth the risk? We’ll try, but if it gets to the point where we feel it’s too dangerous for our employees and our business, it might not be worth it. … Is this current anxiety between gun violence and other things worth it for our employees to risk their lives? That is a tough question. ”

https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/02/03/thieves-target-atms-across-maryland-leaving-small-business-owners-frustrated-demanding-action/ Thieves target ATMs across Maryland, frustrate small business owners and demand action – CBS Baltimore

Tom Vazquez

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