Since the 2021 holiday season, there has been an alarming uptick in ATM robberies from businesses like gas stations and convenience stores. (Photo by Jessica Dortch)

By Brittany Logan
Special to the AFRO

Recently, there have been a rash of ATM thefts across Baltimore City and surrounding counties that have left police with more questions than answers. During the 2021 holiday season, there was an alarming uptick in these brazen burglaries with two to three heists happening per week. The thefts tend to occur late at night at gas stations, and convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, often leaving store front’s damaged and leaving store owners feeling helpless.

The theft begins with a utility or work-type of van, usually stolen, being rammed into the storefront until glass and doors are broken. After the thieves have made entry into the store, several men dressed in all black exit the back of the vehicle and begin to load the ATM into the van. Sometimes, if the ATM is bolted to the floor or to the wall, a chain is placed around the machine then attached to the vehicle and the force of the car rips the machine out. 

So far, there have only been a few ​arrests in these cases and police are not sure if this is the work of one group or several different people. 

“We are still going to use the same measures that we had in place to apprehend these individuals to do the same,” said Baltimore County Police Detective Trae Corbin. “We did a great job with our detectives and our specialized units working cooperatively, and also working with Baltimore City, our neighboring jurisdiction, to apprehend these individuals,” said Corbin after four suspects were arrested attempting to steal an ATM on Jan. 31 at an Exxon Gas Station on North Charles Street. 

In another incident, a Baltimore City DPW worker was arrested after he tried to flee the scene while attempting to steal an ATM with a stolen city-owned truck. Kirk Parker, Jr was arrested on Dec. 29, when Baltimore County Police got a call around 3:30 a.m. for a burglary in progress at the BB&T Bank in the 9300 block of Lakeside Boulevard in Owings Mills. 

When officers arrived on scene, they found a white truck backed up against an ATM with chains wrapped around it. The truck’s license plate and Baltimore City logo was covered up with tape. 

Parker tried to run but was captured a short time later. 

“We are aware of the arrest of our employee in Baltimore County. All inquiries should be directed to the Baltimore County Police Department as this is an active case. DPW is fully cooperating with the investigation,” DPW spokesman James Bentley said in a statement.

Parker was arrested and held without bail on felony charges of second degree burglary and theft along with misdemeanor counts of malicious destruction of property.

“This is definitely a highly organized crime, so it’s just frustrating that we are unable to solve this issue that’s happening at stations, not just this one. We’ve seen it happening in the news but nothing can prepare you for what happens to you,” stated Hiwot Goiton, owner of the BP gas station on Reisterstown Road and victim of an ATM snatch and grab.

As of Feb. 1, there have been no ATM-related or attempted thefts reported in the area.

Police is urging anyone that knows anything about these ATM thefts to call 911 immediately and are cautioned to never approach suspects.

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