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Police close in on suspect in series of ATM thefts

Posted: Saturday, December 30, 2023. 6:58 am CST.

By Horace Palacio: Authorities have made a significant breakthrough in a string of bold ATM thefts, with the recent Heritage Bank heist at a Puma Service Station bringing the issue into sharp focus, officials said on Friday.

The ATM theft at the junction of Faber’s Road and the George Price Highway, which took place on November 30, involved perpetrators ripping an ATM from the service station’s wall and fleeing in a van. This act of audacity, captured on surveillance, aided the police in identifying a suspect, said Commissioner of Belize Police (COMPOL) Chester Williams.

The theft bears resemblance to another ATM heist in Ladyville on Wednesday night, although police have not confirmed a connection between the two incidents. The primary lead in the investigation is the identification of an individual linked to the van used in the Faber’s Road theft. Authorities are issuing a wanted poster as part of efforts to apprehend the suspect.

COMPOL Williams highlighted the need for enhanced security measures for ATMs, especially those accessible around the clock. “Banks and businesses that house ATMs must collaborate on additional security, like guards or alarm systems. When an ATM is tampered with, an alarm could deter thieves and alert the public,” COMPOL Williams stated.

The recent string of ATM thefts in Belize began with the robbery of a Heritage Bank ATM from Hellen Wu Store in Burrell Boom in May, followed by two failed attempts in the Cayo district. The latest incident at the U Mall compound in Ladyville underscores the increasing audacity of these criminal acts.

As the Belize Police Department intensifies its efforts to tackle this emerging crime trend, COMPOL Williams calls for a joint response from financial institutions and commercial establishments to safeguard these vulnerable machines.

 

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