|Police are hunting two thieves who have stolen $700,000 from ATMs in several cities. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)
TORONTO - More than $700,000 has been ripped out of cash machines by a pair of fast-moving bandits during a 15-month rampage throughout the GTA and parts of Quebec, police said Monday.
“Experts in the ATM industry have never seen anything like this before, especially the volume,” said Halton Regional Police Det. Bob Lester.
Based on surveillance videos that investigators have examined, Lester said one of the dedicated pair uses a crowbar to jimmy doors at bingo halls, flea markets, arenas, retail shops and grocery stores.
His partner then lights up a portable oxyacetylene torch and cuts into cash dispensers — usually clearing out in 60 seconds.
Both wear masks, gloves and have been careful to avoid leaving any evidence behind, Lester said.
“They’re very well-travelled,” and from scanty witness information and surveillance images, regularly change mini-vans and SUVs, which he said prompted police to contact car rental agencies.
In case the bandits visited targeted sites earlier, to “case” the layout, investigators are also asking victims to view the videos, hoping they might recognize the two men’s builds and body-language.
There is no evidence they are from the GTA, Lester added.
He said the cutting torch duo have targeted more than 50 sites in Toronto, Peel, York, Durham, Niagara, Waterloo, Ottawa and in Quebec. They’re also suspected of carrying out 12 break-ins in Halton and two more in Hamilton.
Since the pair shows no sign of retiring since they first appeared on the police radar starting on July 15, 2011, Halton Regional Police Services Board has posted a $25,000 reward leading to their arrest and conviction. The reward expires on Nov. 5, 2013.
“With the amount of incidents they’ve been involved in, they’re obviously greedy,” Lester said.
With typical burglars and smash-and-grab thieves, greed and the bravado heightened by avoiding arrest often leads to their eventual detection, but he said “as to them getting sloppy, I haven’t seen that.”
Police describe one as white, stocky, 6-foot and 225 pounds. His accomplice is white, 5-foot-10, and about 180 pounds.
Investigators urge anyone with information to call 905-825-4777 ext. 2335.