Double smash and dash at the Slave Lake MRC

ATM bandits strike again

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Professional ATM bandits struck again last week, yanking the machine out of the multi-rec centre lobby in Slave Lake. It happened overnight on Dec. 4/5.

The modus operandi is becoming awfully familiar. Steal a truck, smash a window, affix a rope or strap to the machine and the other end to the truck and pull. Then load it up and drive off.  You know you’re going to be on security camera video, so you make sure you’re unrecognizable. The stolen vehicle is ditched and is usually found fairly soon. The stolen ATM may also be found ditched, the cash having been removed. And on to the next town for the thieves.

What was different about this one was the amount of damage done. According to somebody who saw the video, the ATM was pulled out with such force it whipped around a pillar and smashed into the doors of the MRC. As a result, the town has at least two (maybe more) glass panels to replace. Not to mention an ATM, although the municipal authorities must be having second thoughts about whether it’s worth it.

Mark Becker, the town’s senior peace officer, says he’s advised his superiors “it’s only a matter of time,” before the ATM (at another location in town) is targeted.

The theft is the fourth of its kind in the region (that we know of) in the past few weeks. It started in Swan Hills on Nov. 7. On Nov. 8 the Petro Canada on Hwy. 2 in Slave Lake was hit. Then on Nov. 22 the Circle K store in High Prairie was targeted. The method in all three cases was pretty much identical.

In a news release later that day, Slave Lake RCMP said two people, faces covered, were involved in the theft. The release said the ATM “ricocheted off the exterior flag posts and damaged the front entrance doors.”

One of the thieves had a distinctive walk, said Staff Sgt. John Spaans in the releases, with “arms swinging.”

The stolen ATM was found later that morning near Smith.

Town staff and contractors examine the hole in the front of the MRC on the morning of Dec. 5. Also damaged were the front entrance doors.

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