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Texas ATM Theft Gang Busted in Tallahassee after attempted ATM Heist; Robbers used Low Risk and High Reward tactics for Robberies

Texas ATM Theft Gang Busted in Tallahassee after attempted ATM Heist; Robbers used Low Risk and High Reward tactics for Robberies

Tallahassee, FL: Two men in a criminal organization located in Houston have admitted their guilt in federal court for their involvement in a widespread ATM crime spree across the country.

They utilized a novel technique to access cash machines, targeting banks in Florida and many other states, resulting in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Charles Deon Mathews, 30, and Shai Trymaine Fields, 31, stole money from an ATM repairman in Tallahassee by tracking and threatening him while he was working on the machine.

This crime technique has been highlighted by the FBI in a warning to law enforcement titled “Traveling ATM Robbery Crews Shift Tradecraft to Include Surveilling Robbery Targets.”

Criminal gangs frequently targeted ATMs using the “hook and chain” tactic during nighttime or early morning hours in past robberies. Thieves would use a large truck to forcefully remove an ATM from the ground by securing a chain around it and pulling it out before fleeing with it in the vehicle, as reported by the FBI.

The criminals begin by strategically destroying an ATM near its safe door, triggering an error message without causing significant harm to prompt a “panic” warning involving the authorities. An error notice alerts a service professional through an app about the malfunctioning machine, and a repairman will be dispatched to rectify the issue.

The burglars conceal themselves and remain in a hidden position till the repairman arrives and unlocks the ATM for maintenance. The individuals then surprise the technician and take the money from the unsecured machine.

Mathews and Fields, who admitted guilt in Tallahassee, were described by the FBI as having robbed $88,710 from a Wells Fargo Bank ATM on Mahan Drive on July 19. They were apprehended by the FBI in November.

A repair technician employed by Diebold-Nixdorf, a business hired to service Wells Fargo ATMs, came at the Mahan Drive ATM at 1:30 p.m. due to an error message suggesting the safe door was open, as per court papers.

During an interview with a detective from the Tallahassee police department, the repairman found that the ATM’s sensor was twisted outward towards the safe door, as stated in the federal court records.

Mathews and Fields, donning masks and hoods, quickly approached the technician. Fearing they were armed, he raised his arms, crouched, and started moving backward. Mathews, wearing gloves, and Fields, with socks on his hands, removed multiple cassettes containing cash from the machine. The theft was recorded on surveillance footage.

They discarded the empty cassettes on the wayside after taking out the cash and driving away.

As per the FBI, ATMs usually have four cassettes – two for $20 bills and two for $50 bills. Each cassette may accommodate a maximum of 2,000 banknotes. The total would be $280,000 in a fully loaded ATM. Certain ATMs distribute $100 bills.

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