Four More Charged In California Stolen ATM Epidemic

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SANTA ANA, Calif. – Four unemployed men were charged yesterday with using stolen trucks and a forklift to boost four credit union ATMs, netting them more than $400,000 in cash.

The four apparently favored local credit unions, hitting at least three SchoolsFirst FCU machines, one at a Stater Bros. supermarket, and failing at a fourth attempt. In the latter, the thieves wrapped a cable around the ATM, yanked it out and dragged it around the parking lot behind a truck in an unsuccessful attempt to bust it open. Something apparently spooked them and they fled the scene, leaving behind DNA evidence in the stolen truck, leading police to the suspects.

All four defendants are being held on $1 million bail. Prior to posting bond, the defendants must prove that their bail money is from a legal and legitimate source.

The charges come as investigators have arrested suspects in multiple ATM thefts in the Palo Area, including three of Stanford FCU machines, part of as many as 120 ATM thefts in the region over the past 18 months.

The latest theft occurred at 5:30 a.m. May 1 in Yorba Linda, prosecutors said. The men tore the machine out of its concrete base and left behind wire cutters and a metal chain, they added. They got away with $95,935 in cash, as well as $39,215 in member deposits, prosecutors said. In this case, authorities say, the men left a stolen box truck in a Home Depot parking lot in Orange and set it ablaze.

The thieves used a pallet jack to steal another ATM from a Stater Brothers supermarket in Aliso Viejo at 6:30 a.m. April 26, prosecutors said. The loss from that machine was $71,260, plus $169,000 in member deposits, they added. Surveillance video shows the three men loading the ATM into a white truck equipped with a forklift.

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