ALERT arrests seven people in connection with ATM theft rings
ALERT Staff Sergeant David Knibbs says ATM thefts leave a trail of destruction in small communities in Alberta, sabotaging the feeling of safety for residents.
Published Tuesday, October 18, 2016 12:18PM MDT
The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams have arrested seven people in connection with two organized crime rings targeting ATMs in central Alberta.
Authorities say that over 130 incidents of ATM thefts have taken place in over 60 communities in the province so far this year.
Now, ALERT has laid 101 charges against seven people involved in two separate organized crime rings.
Jonathan Andrews, 23, of Bentley, and Shane Hicks, 37, of Rimbey, were arrested earlier this year at the culmination of ALERT’s first investigation.
They face 63 charges related to theft, possession of stolen property, mischief, and break and enters.
Investigators have linked the pair to a series of incidents in central Alberta:
- ATM theft in Caroline – May 5, 2016
- Stolen trailer in Pigeon Lake – May 31, 2016
- Break and enter in Rimbey – June 2, 2016
- Stolen pickup truck in Rimbey – June 2, 2016
- Damaged police vehicles at RCMP Rimbey detachment – June 5, 2016
- ATM theft at Rimbey Credit Union, Rimbey – June 5, 2016
- Damaged police vehicles at RCMP Bashaw detachment – June 9, 2016
- Attempted theft in Ponoka – June 9, 2016
- Break and enter and stolen truck in Bashaw – June 9, 2016
- Break and enter Canada Post Office in Mirror – June 9, 2016
- Attempted theft in Ponoka – June 12, 2016
- Break and enter Canada Post Office in Mirror – June 12, 2016
Andrews is currently serving a 24 month sentence in jail for his part in the crime while Hicks is due in Wetaskiwin court on November 2.
A second investigation, targeting another group operating out of Saddle Lake and Edmonton, resulted in the arrest of five suspects.
Tyrone Hunter, 23, Byron Hunter, 42, Rodney Hunter, 37, Francis Cardinal, 22, and Abigail Hunter, 45, face a total of 38 charges related to weapons, theft, break and enter.
Search warrants executed at homes on the Saddle Lake Reserve resulted in the seizure of 12 firearms, body armour, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
The group is suspected in the following incidents:
- Armed Robbery at Northside Store in Saddle Lake – June 25, 2014
- Perjury at the St. Paul Provincial Court – August 10, 2016
- Break and enter to steal firearm at Warehouse Sports in St. Paul – Feb 17, 2014
- Break and enter at Guardian Pharmacy in Mundare – April 14, 2015
- Break and enter at Northside Store in Saddle Lake – June 25, 2014
- Break and enter, Theft of ATM, at Cardinal Cash n’ Carry in Goodfish – January 12, 2016
- Break and enter, Theft of ATM at Servus Credit Union in Lamont – March 14, 2016
- Break and enter, Theft of ATM at Servus Credit Union in Mundare – May 19, 2016
- Break and enter, Theft of ATM at Northside Store in Saddle Lake – May 20, 2016
Byron Hunter is expected to appear in court on October 28, while is co-accused will appear on November 1.
ALERT Staff Sergeant Dave Knibbs says the groups expressly targeted Alberta’s smaller communities. “They terrorized rural communities and left behind a trail of destruction.”
He said that the damage left behind often far exceeded the value of the cash left inside of the machine.
“This is a destroyed business or a destroyed workplace,” Knibbs said. “In small communities, these banks are neighbourhood institutions and what is left behind is a visible scar which shakes the sense of public safety.”
Meanwhile authorities in Calgary are still looking for suspects in ATM robberies that took place in the city this year.
The latest such incident took place just last month when a pair of thieves tried to rip an ATM from a TD Bank on Symons Valley Road N.W. using a truck and a grappling hook.
The suspects were unsuccessful in the attempt, but inflicted heavy damage to the ATM in the process.
In April, thieves used a truck to smash into a Somerset pub and make off with the business’ ATM.
Police were also called to a northeast restaurant in March after an ATM was taken from the front entrance.
In mid-February, thieves used a front end loader to tear an ATM from the side of a Royal Bank location in the northwest community of Beacon Hill.
Calgary police say that thieves who attempt these types of crimes will usually find there is little reward because the cash inside the machines is usually emptied on a regular basis.