Police seek leads on suspect in ATM break-ins


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula police are on the search for a suspect who broke into two ATMs Tuesday night. The man stole an undisclosed amount of cash and managed to keep his face hidden from security cameras. Missoula police tell us most people who try to steal money out of ATMs do so electronically or by hacking the ATM's computer to get debit card numbers, but that is definitely not the case here. A heavy chain, a hook and a pickup truck are all the supplies the suspect in this case needed to rip the doors off of two ATMs according to authorities. "These are heavy structures, they're made of steel and concrete and the doors themselves probably weigh anywhere from 500 to 600 pounds," says Police Sergeant Travis Welsh. Welsh tells NBC Montana investigators believe the suspect may have designed his own two-prong hook, just for the specific purpose of stealing cash from ATMs. ATMs are built like small banks and what the suspect did in this case is he cut the hinges on the front door of the machine, placed his hook and ripped the door off. "A little sophistication was used because the hinges were cut first and then it seems like there was a special hook attached to a very heavy chain that was then attached to a large three-quarter ton pickup truck," says Welsh. He says the security video they have shows the man driving a 2005 to 2008 maroon Ford F-250 extended cab. "This truck may have been taken locally or from a car lot in an adjacent city and used in the commission of this offense," Welsh tells us. We talked to several residents who say they're shocked someone was actually able to break into an ATM. "I think it would take a lot of effort to break into an ATM," says Missoula resident Betsy Griffing. "You hear about those types of thefts but I can't help but think they're fairly rare." "They're not mobile and they're not easily defeated, so whoever did this came prepared for what it would take to remove that door," says Welsh. Sergeant Welsh says he doesn't believe these recent ATM thefts are related to the ones in Ravalli County. The suspect is described as roughly 5-foot-8 to 6-feet tall. He was wearing a dark colored hoodie and a black mask. He was also wearing black and yellow Mechanix-style gloves. If you have any information on these ATM thefts you are encouraged to call Crimestoppers at 721-4444.