Four busted in ATM thefts

‘Traveling criminals’ on the hook for Slave Lake jobs

Leader staff

RCMP have arrested four people in connection with automated teller machine (ATM) thefts in 11 Alberta communities, including Slave Lake.
In custody Nov. 17 are two 33-year-old men and a 35-year-old woman. On Dec. 1, a fourth suspect was collared in Gunn.

According to a release from the RCMP’s Eastern Alberta District (EADGIS), a year-long investigation into the ATM thefts resulted in a move to arrest one suspect. This was on the evening of Nov. 16, somewhere within the service area of the Westlock RCMP. It resulted in a two-hour pursuit, during which “the suspect switched vehicles several times, before evading police capture.”

That wasn’t the end of it, however. Just after noon the next day, RCMP located the fugitive in Redwater and arrested him. He had fled from another property in the company of another man, in a stolen vehicle. Both were taken into custody. The other man is from Barrhead, the release says; the initial suspect is of “no fixed address.”

Police found a loaded, prohibited shotgun in the car, along with ammunition.

They also found and arrested a woman at the property the other pair had bolted from. She is from Athabasca and was wanted on an outstanding warrant from Barrhead.

The investigation that led to the arrests started in September of 2019. In that span, the first suspect is alleged to have committed ATM thefts in Legal, Slave Lake, Swan Hills, Whitecourt, Edson, Athabasca, Hinton, Barrhead, Niton Junction and Grande Cache. Businesses targeted included a credit union, gas stations and a lounge. His colleague is suspected in ATM thefts in Fox Creek, Swan Hills, Whitecourt, Edson and High Prairie.

The third member of the trio is facing charges in connection with an ATM theft in High Prairie on Nov. 21, 2019.

As reported earlier, two of the three are suspected in ATM thefts at the Multi-Rec Centre in Slave Lake on Dec. 5 of 2019 and the Petro Canada convenience store on Nov. 8 2019. To that, Slave Lake RCMP Sgt. Don Racette added last week a theft at the Slave Lake Fas Gas, and one at Exact Oilfield Developing.

“They stole a vehicle,” he said. “Two people were identified.”

How they were identified Racette didn’t want to say. RCMP are keen to get the news out, though, that these were not local people making the thefts in and around Slave Lake.

“They’re travelling criminals,” he said.

Fourth arrest
Then on Dec. 1, RCMP announced they had nabbed a fourth ATM theft suspect, a 38-year-old man of no fixed address, in Gunn Alberta. He is suspected in ATM thefts in Slave Lake and Legal. He’s also suspected in a Nov. 20 B&E at the No Frills pharmacy in Vegreville.

Whether the Slave Lake charges will be dealt with in Slave Lake Provincial Court remains to be seen, but Racette seems to think it unlikely. If the accused persons plead guilty, all the matters could be handled at once, likely in Edmonton.

“We’ll be notified,” he said.

According to the news release, over $100,000, along with merchandise from separate instances was stolen in the crime spree in question. Damages from these incidents are estimated are estimated to be over $500,000.

The investigation continues.

EADGIS asks anyone with information regarding these thefts to contact them at 780-645-8870. Or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

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