Reading police investigate ATM 'crash and grabs'

Crash and Grabs in Berks

READING, Pa. - Police are investigating the attempted "crash and grab" thefts from two more automated teller machines in Reading.

So far, four ATMs have been damaged, but money was taken from only one of them. Whomever is behind the attempted crash and grabs has struck out the last three times, but witnesses said it wasn't from a lack of trying.

In the last two attempts, neighbors said the sound woke them up.

Kids who live near the El Puente 2 corner store at North 10th and Windsor streets were watching surveillance video from Wednesday morning. At 1:42 a.m., a Honda SUV struck the machine for the first time.

One of the boys described it, "All you see it goes boom, boom, boom."

The second time was so strong the machine hit the metal cover over the store's window and broke the glass behind it.

"It's crazy how it just happened," said Cesar Rodriguez. "He just rams into it three times. Luckily, he didn't get anything or money."

That was the third ATM to be rammed into on the street.

"I seen it on the evening news yesterday," said Barry Henry, who lives on Perkiomen Avenue. "Well, we got one right out here. Probably would happen to that one. My God, it did."

The fourth attempt happened around 3 a.m. Thursday at South 14th Street and Perkiomen Avenue. Henry lives two doors down from the Diana Grocery.

"I seen the car back up and pull straight into it again," said Henry.

The noise was loud.

"You sat straight up in bed," said Dave Davis, who came running out of his house to see if his truck got hit by a car. "You could hear they backed up two or three times and was ramming the machine."

Davis said the driver got out of the car.

"Nonchalantly, shaking on the door and trying to open it up," said Davis.

But it didn't work. A person with the company that installs the ATMs said the first ATM that was hit on Tuesday on West Oley Street malfunctioned, and that thief was lucky. The company is confident this type of withdrawal won't work again, no matter who is behind it.

Reading police said they are still investigating. They don't know if it's the same person behind all four ATMs. Officers said the circumstances are similar, but it could be copycats.

Anyone with information about the crash and grabs should call Crime Alert: Berks County. A cash reward of up to $5,000 is being offered. The toll-free number is 877-373-9913.

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