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Man arrested for taking blowtorch to north Spokane Numerica Credit Union ATM

UPDATED: Wed., Dec. 6, 2017, 6:53 a.m.

A Numerica Credit Union ATM at 303 E. Lyons Ave. was the target of thieves using a blow torch trying to get to cash. Bank workers say they were unsuccessful. (Jonathan Glover / The Spokesman-Review)
A Numerica Credit Union ATM at 303 E. Lyons Ave. was the target of thieves using a blow torch trying to get to cash. Bank workers say they were unsuccessful. (Jonathan Glover / The Spokesman-Review)

Call him the blowtorch bandit.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 26, a man pulled up to the Numerica Credit Union branch at 303 E. Lyons Ave. and took a fiery cutting torch to the drive-thru ATM’s outer dressings.

Spokane police suspect 29-year-old Kirk Fisher is the culprit. For all of the effort, Fisher left without money, according to court documents. He has been arrested and charged with first-degree malicious mischief and second-degree arson. Police say a blowtorch and other items left at the scene contributed to the swift arrest.

It was the second time in about three months that a Numerica Credit Union ATM was targeted. On Aug. 20, the branch on East 29th Avenue was hit by a similar incident involving a cutting torch. A person of interest has not been identified by police.

In each case, no money was stolen.

“Not even close to money,” said Kelli Hawkins, spokeswoman for Numerica.

The ATMs were closed for several weeks for repairs. In the case of the Lyons branch, a black plastic bag was still draped over the machine Tuesday, a humorous sign greeting those turned away.

“Whoops!” it reads. “Someone mistook their blowtorch for their debit card. I’ll be out of service for a while.”

Both incidents were caught on camera, Hawkins said. Videos were turned over to Spokane police investigators.

Ineffective ATM thievery has been a trend in Spokane in the past few months. On Oct. 16, a man driving a stolen tractor from a nearby construction site attempted to bash his way into a drive-thru ATM at the Washington State Employees Credit Union on Northwest Boulevard. He was not successful.

Then weeks later in the early morning hours of Oct. 25, a pair of thieves attempted the same against a Banner Bank drive-thru ATM at 12104 N. Division St. In that case, the tractor was stolen from a neighboring car wash, whose owner learned of the heist later that morning after reading about it in the news.

Like the would-be robber before them, they too were unsuccessful.