Brazen thieves are targeting cash machines at Spokane-area convenience stores, using stolen vehicles to bash through locked doors and storefronts to grab and loot the secured ATMs.
The series of attacks continued Wednesday, with a predawn ramming of a South Hill convenience store.
It was just the latest of at least a dozen similar ripoffs or attempted thefts in the city of Spokane and Spokane County this month.
The first occurred Oct. 8 when a masked man backed a pickup through the doors of a West Plains convenience store and stole a cash drawer and 107 packs of cigarettes. The store, a Conoco station at 40th and Fosseen, had gotten rid of its ATM because of theft problems, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities have no suspects and are asking for help from the public.
“We’d welcome a tip from the community that solves these,” said Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
The incidents involve men dressed in black clothing and driving stolen vehicles, but their methods for trying to remove the ATM vary.
The men wrapped a chain around an ATM at 9914 N. Wall St. on Oct. 21 and tried yanking it with an SUV.
They fled empty-handed when an alarm sounded.
In Wednesday morning’s theft, the men hoisted an ATM at Tesoro market, 3158 E. 17th Ave., into the back of a stolen Mazda pickup about 3:45 a.m. and left when an alarm sounded.
A bumper from the truck was left at the scene. A short time later, police found the Mazda less than a mile away at East 15th Avenue and South Napa Street.
After the attempted ATM theft Oct. 21, a sheriff’s deputy found the 2009 white Infiniti Q56 SUV abandoned near North Juanita Road and North Kensington Drive.
That’s about a half-mile from the A-1 Gas & Grocery, where masked men had used the SUV to break into the store and tried yanking the ATM out.
A woman who lives in the area witnessed the incident and called 911, according to a warrant used to search the SUV.
That SUV and at least one other vehicle used in the thefts had been stolen from the Hertz car rental company at Spokane International Airport, Reagan said.