The latest in a string of brazen automated teller machine (ATM) thefts in southern Alberta has a business owner predicting it will take at least a month to rebuild his store.

In the early morning hours of Monday, January 7, a suspect gained access into a convenience store in Crossfield outside business hours.

“The robbery happened around 4:40 in the morning,” explained Khair Alghebari, the store’s owner. “He broke the front door, he went to the ATM, strapped it, dragged it and then basically he damaged the whole front area.”

 “He pulled the ATM, left and dragged it all the way probably  about two kilometres from here.” 

The theft was captured by the store’s surveillance cameras and the casing of the stolen ATM was later recovered from an area outside Crossfield.

Alghebari says there was extensive damage to the customer area of the store including the counter, three point of sale systems, cabinets, shelves, merchandise and the phone system.

“The damage here that he caused, because he had to steal the ATM, is probably around, I would say, $150,000,” said Alghebari. “He killed the business because this is the heart of the business. Now we can’t do anything.”

ATM theft has become increasingly problematic in Calgary and surrounding communities.

According to RCMP, there have been a total of seven reported thefts or attempted thefts since Christmas Day in the communities of Airdrie, Strathmore, Cochrane, Okotoks and Crossfield.  Calgary Police Service officials say there were eight ATM thefts in Calgary in December.

“They appear to be more common as of recent,” explained Cpl. Gina Slaney of the Airdrie RCMP. “We’re asking business owners to be very aware that this has been happening right now. There are things that they can do – report any suspicious behavior.”

Slaney says thieves will often visit the location prior to the theft to get a sense of the layout of the business.

Alghebari has owned his business in Crossfield for roughly 20 years and he says he has received an outpouring of support following the theft.

Anyone with information regarding the ATM theft in Crossfield or any ATM theft is encouraged to contact police.

With files from CTV’s Jordan Kanygin