Burglarized in Anchorage: multiple local businesses see ATMs stolen after hours

(WEAU)
Published: Apr. 14, 2017 at 1:15 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Multiple businesses and organizations around Anchorage have been victimized this year by a similar problem: early morning ATM burglaries.

As KTUU previously reported,

Suspects in connection to that incident have been apprehended after they, and the stolen ATM in question,

www.ktuu.com/content/news/Four-charged-for-recent-ATM-thefts-415930053.html”>were later located in Big Lake.

However, the string of ATM thefts has continued to afflict local businesses despite these arrests. Jerry Lewis, owner of ATM Alaska, supplies over 100 machines to businesses in town. He says that since December, he’s seen roughly 17 locations that he supplies ATMs to fall victim to thieves.

“I had two just last week,” Lewis said. “Based on the surveillance, it seems to be a recurring theme. Two people break in, one person waits in the car, and they either carry the machine out or just hook a chain to it and rip it from the wall.”

Ken Smith, property manager of the Flight Deck Bar, said that his establishment fell victim to ATM burglars just over a week ago. In the early April incident, Smith says the bar’s security camera clearly observed two individuals forcibly bust in the back door at just after 6:30 a.m. Smith said the culprits then broke the ATM out with a crowbar and carried it out the way they had come in.

Smith said that he was able to replace the ATM later that same day, and upgraded some security features of the bar to safeguard against further break-ins. However, he said that many local businesses can’t protect themselves against everything. “We have strong security, but locks are designed to keep an honest person out, not a prepared thief.”

One local business confirmed that their ATM had been forcibly removed, and that they had filed a police report and turned over surveillance footage to authorities. However, they wished to remain anonymous for fear that the ATM thieves might return, and that they could not sustain the monetary damage of a second attack.

These ATM machines aren’t exactly cheap for small businesses, in addition to what money might be inside them. Bruce Haas, the administrator of the Moose Lodge in Anchorage, said the ATM that was stolen from his lodge, and later recovered damaged beyond repair, was valued at around $3,000.

That break-in happened back in January, again in the early morning hour of around 5:00 a.m. He said his camera system was in the process of getting upgraded (his new rear camera was on order, and arrived in the mail the day after the break in), however they did get footage of one of the thieves who smashed through two glass doors and a window to gain access to the lodge’s ATM.

Haas said the thieves brought their own trolley and wheeled the machine away, which was not bolted down at the time. He said they left with the ATM, but not before also stealing two empty cash register drawers. The ATM cost represented the biggest loss.

Police called Haas around two weeks later, saying that they had found the lodge’s ATM in an abandoned lot. Though the ATM was completely destroyed, he said that the incident helped inform the lodge about what security upgrades were needed.

“It was a real hassle to replace the machine, though luckily we were insured,” Haas said. “It served as a wake-up call for our security deficiencies. The new machine is bolted down and our doors are stronger.”

Early indications into the thefts indicate that there could be many more businesses that have been broken into in Anchorage. When KTUU approached police for exact numbers on the ATM-related burglaries, they said that numbers would not be readily available due to public information officers with the Anchorage Police Department not working on Friday.

Staci Feger-Pellessier with the FBI branch Anchorage field office said that they could not say how many ATM thefts have been reported. “I can’t comment on the number of cases we are investigating as they are active investigations,” Feger-Pellessier said in an email Friday.