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Gangs find new way to rob ATMs: Follow the repairmen

Florida Politics

'This tactic is low risk and high reward.'

Two men in a Houston-based criminal gang have pleaded guilty in federal court after being charged as part of a roving nationwide ATM crime spree in which a new method was used to break into cash machines, robbing banks in Florida and other states and netting hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Charles Deon Mathews, 30, and Shai Trymaine Fields, 31, grabbed the cash by tracking and threatening an ATM repairman in Tallahassee while he was fixing the unlocked machine in broad daylight — a relatively new crime technique that prompted an FBI warning to law enforcement, “Traveling ATM Robbery Crews Shift Tradecraft to Include Surveilling Robbery Targets.”

In previous robberies, criminal gangs often targeted ATMs with the so-called “hook and chain” method at night or in the early morning hours. Thieves would back up a large truck to an ATM, secure a chain around it and yank the machine out of the ground before making off with it in the vehicle, according to the FBI.


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