By JESSIE HORTON
CENTRAL TEXAS (December 16, 2015) — Three different rings in the state are attempting to rob small town banks by hitting their ATMs overnight, according to the Texas Rangers. And at least one of those rings has come to the immediate area.
They hit first in De Leon at F&M Bank, then in Hico at the First National. Most recently, Dublin National Bank was hit. Now Dublin Police Chief Michael Jennings and Comanche County Sheriff’s Department CID Investigator Clint Cole are both investigating separate incidents that may or may not be connected.
“We know there are three different rings operating in the area because of the information we were given from the Texas Rangers when we turned over our information on the De Leon attempt,” Cole said. “We also know arrests were made in a similar attempt in Lampasas last week. What we don’t yet know is if they are connected.”
Jennings and Cole both had similar cases to the Lampasas case in that the criminals stole maintainers (or loaders) from County Precincts to attempt to remove the ATMs from bank property. While the criminals in Hico did not steal a county maintainer in their attempt, a piece of heavy machinery was taken from a local yard and used in the attempt. In the Dublin attempt, the would-be thieves left the loader in a local fertilizer yard.
In all three attempts, the heavy machinery was abandoned and most of the time the ATMs, while damaged, were still in place. That isn’t stopping the thieves from continuing to try, nor is it keeping local authorities from investigating and assisting the Rangers with their investigation.
“We’ve gathered our information and sent it to the Texas Rangers, but we’re still looking into the case,” Jennings said. “Not only do we have the video of the attempt, but we’re also going through several days prior to the incident to see if they were casing the location.”
He said on the night of the attempted robbery, the criminals wore masks covering their faces and gloves to cover their hands. However, Jennings said the subjects were not as clever in covering up other clothing items with identifying markings and his investigators were able to get clear stills of some of those items.
“My guys are looking at every lead and working closely with the Rangers,” he said, echoing an earlier statement from Cole.
“We’ve stepped up patrols in the areas we think could be at risk and are looking at every angle,” Cole said.