Seven people are facing a total of 101 charges in connection with a six separate ATM thefts across Alberta over the past six months.
In the first six months of 2016, there were more than 130 ATM thefts across the province, according to the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams. Some of the thefts were caught on video surveillance.
“The 130 offences speaks to the scope of the problem within the province. These two investigations targeted two specific areas in the province,” Staff Sgt. Dave Knibbs, of ALERT, said Tuesday.
“These groups consistently targeted small town Alberta. They terrorized rural communities and left behind a trail of destruction,” he said. “The damage is extensive and far exceeds the value of the ATM or the cash inside.”
Watch below: ALERT-obtained video shows ATM thefts caught on surveillance
“We are quite fortunate that no one was inside at the time. The outcome might have been much worse,” Knibbs said.
ALERT’s Edmonton organized crime and gang team became involved in the investigation in May 2016 after two groups were identified as possible suspects.
Jonathan Andrews, 23, of Bentley, Alta. and Shane Hicks, 37, of Rimbey, Alta. were charged in the first phase of the investigation. The pair face 63 charges related to theft, possession of stolen property, mischief and break and enter, allegedly connected to 12 separate incidents.
In two instances, officers said police cruisers at RCMP detachments were sabotaged in an attempt to obstruct police.
“The tires on the RCMP vehicles were flattened so that the members couldn’t respond to emergencies,” Knibbs said.
Andrews and Hicks were arrested on June 12 in connection with the following incidents:
Andrews was recently sentenced to 30 months in jail. He was given credit for six months already served. Hicks is scheduled to appear in court in Wetaskiwin on Nov. 2.
The second phase of the investigation involved a separate group, which police allege was running 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 and break and enter. ALERT alleges the group was involved in ATM thefts, firearms trafficking and other criminal activity.
Two homes were searched on the Saddle Lake Cree Nation on Aug. 9 and Sept. 19, which resulted in the seizure of 12 firearms, body armour and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Byron Hunter and Tyrone Hunter were arrested in Edmonton on Aug. 19. Abigail Hunter and Francis Cardinal were arrested in Saddle Lake on Aug. 31. Rodney Hunter was arrested in West Kelowna on Sept. 28.
The group has been charged with the following incidents:
Watch below: An attempted ATM robbery in Lamont this past March left a trail of destruction and had police searching for suspects. As Quinn Ohler reports, similar robberies appear to be becoming increasingly common. (Filed March 14, 2016).
Byron Hunter is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 8. The rest of the group will appear on Nov. 1.
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