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Canada 'We can't take this anymore': Rural Alberta business owners plagued by thefts of ATMs

15:55  06 january  2020
15:55  06 january  2020 Source:   cbc.ca

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A file photo of an ATM.© Getty

A file photo of an ATM.

The security camera captures a man in a grey hoodie jumping through the shattered front door, tow strap in hand. A second person outside feeds more strapping into the store.

Seconds later, the man leaves, the tow rope tightens and the ATM thrusts forward, crashing through a candy shelf and slamming into the door.

The man returns through the door, lifts and heaves the ATM through the door.

Meanwhile, Megan Reuteman, manager of the Moose Country Petro Canada in Whitecourt, receives a notification on her cellphone, which is connected to the gas station's security system.

It's 4 a.m. when she calls 911. By the time police arrive, the suspects are gone, leaving Reuteman's family, which owns the building, facing $25,000 in losses.

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"Attacks upon ATMs inside businesses, including the theft of these machines, continue to be an ongoing issue," said Fraser Logan, a spokesperson for the RCMP.

There were 51 ATM thefts or attempted thefts in Alberta between January and October in 2019, a typical year, according to RCMP.

It's enough that gas station and convenience store owners live in fear of being the next target.

"Business people, they're calling me, you know, saying 'This is enough, we can't take this anymore,'" said Barry Sharkawi, president of the chamber of commerce in High Prairie.

"They are upset," Sharkawi said. "Not just that they are scared about the break-and-enters, but they're asking, 'Who's next?'"

On Nov. 21, Sharkawi posted an image of a heavily-damaged Circle K convenience store, one of the latest businesses to be targeted.

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As Tom Vernon reports, ATMs were the target and significant efforts were taken to break them Copy link. Seven people are facing a total of 101 charges in connection with a six separate ATM thefts “ These groups consistently targeted small town Alberta . They terrorized rural communities and left

And while businesses in the communities targeted by the thieves were thankful for the arrests, they "There's not too much as a business owner that I can do in regards to security rather than having an RCMP and ALERT conducted a five month investigation into a a wave of ATM thefts that have

"Something has to happen regarding security of the town," Sharkawi said in the Facebook post. "If this keeps happening, it will scare anybody to come and invest in High Prairie."

Some thefts are more brazen than others.

At 4 a.m. on Sept. 20, four masked suspects — one armed with a gun — broke into the Tofield Esso, held two gas stations employees at gunpoint and ordered them to move to an adjacent room. The suspects tried to steal the ATM but RCMP showed up before they could complete the heist.

RCMP chased the suspects for a short period of time but no arrests were made.

An ATM theft in early November at the Petro Canada in Cornerstone Plaza in Slave Lake was followed by a theft a month later at the town's rec centre.

The thefts leaves business owners wondering if having an ATM is worth the headache.

"We haven't replaced it; we're still deciding if we want an ATM back in our store," Reuteman said.

"Things are not cheap," she said. "[Replacing] the garbage cans, like, you just think it's a garbage can, but because you have to get specific ones from Petro Canada, they're $150 each."

For Sharkawi, enough is enough.

"We need to be saved, that's all," he said.

Chilliwack man faces 39 charges in connection with scams against seniors .
A Chilliwack man faces 39 charges in connection with a series of thefts and scams that targeted Metro Vancouver seniors in August and September of last year. Donald Robert Quinnell was arrested Sept. 12 by Vancouver police on an unrelated Canada-wide warrant, and has been held in custody since then. Nine of the charges filed against Quinnell are for wallet and credit card thefts, while the remaining 30 charges stem from allegations of fraud committed using the credit cards. He is scheduled to appear in North Vancouver court on Jan. 17.

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