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ALERT and RCMP are shedding light on the trend of ATM thefts taking place across Alberta. Two organized theft rings were identified and arrests made in response to the crime trend.
In the first six months of 2016 more than 130 instances of ATM theft have taken place, according to ALERT’s criminal intelligence analysts. More than 60 communities have been impacted, with banks, credit unions, gas stations, and convenience stores incurring severe damage in addition to monetary loss.
“The impact of these offences extends far beyond the monetary loss of an ATM. These offenders have left a trail of destruction in rural communities and have shaken resident’s sense of safety,” said S/Sgt. Dave Knibbs, of ALERT.
ALERT’s Edmonton organized crime and gang team became involved in May 2016 after two suspected groups were identified by intelligence analysts. A total of 101 charges have been laid to date against seven individuals, with the latest arrest occurring on September 28, 2016.
“The success of our investigation is attributable to the collaborative approach and teamwork between all our agencies working together to combat this crime trend. Integrated policing is the most effective model for keeping our comminutes safe,” said Chief Supt. Shahin Mehdizadeh.
The first phase of the joint forces investigation resulted in the arrests of Jonathan Andrews, 23, of Bentley and Shane Hicks, 37, of Rimbey. The pair were arrested on June 12 and three search warrants were conducted at associated properties.
Andrews and Hicks face 63 charges related to theft, possession of stolen property, mischief, and break and enters. In two instances, the pair allegedly sabotaged police cruisers at the RCMP detachments in an attempt to obstruct police.
Investigators have charged Andrews and Hicks for the following incidents:
Andrews was recently sentenced to 30 months in prison minus six months credit for time already served. Hicks, meanwhile is due in Wetaskiwin court on November 2.
The second phase of the investigation targeted a separate group operating out of the Saddle Lake and Edmonton areas. Tyrone Hunter, 23, Byron Hunter, 42, Rodney Hunter, 37, Francis Cardinal, 22, and Abigail Hunter, 45, face a total of 38 charges related to weapons, theft, break and enter. ALERT alleges that the group was involved in ATM thefts, firearms trafficking, and other criminal activity.
Two search warrants were carried out at homes on the Saddle Lake Reserve, on August 9 and September 19. The search warrants resulted in the seizure of 12 firearms, body armour, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. The final arrest occurred on September 28 when Rodney Hunter was arrested in West Kelowna, B.C. for weapons trafficking, amongst other offences.
Hunter and company have been charged with the following incidents:
Byron Hunter is expected to appear in court on October 28, while is co-accused will appear on November 1.