October 18, 2016 12:36 pm
Updated: October 18, 2016 7:09 pm

More than 100 charges laid against 7 people in string of Alberta ATM thefts

WATCH ABOVE: Seven people have been arrested in connection with a string of brazen robberies throughout rural Alberta. As Tom Vernon reports, ATMs were the target and significant efforts were taken to break them open.

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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.

Jonathan Andrews, 23, of Bentley, Alta.

Courtesy, RCMP

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:

  • ATM theft in Caroline – May 5, 2016
  • Stolen trailer in Pigeon Lake – May 31, 2016
  • Break and enter in Rimbey – June 2, 2016
  • Stolen pickup truck in Rimbey – June 2, 2016
  • Damaged police vehicles at RCMP Rimbey detachment – June 5, 2016
  • ATM theft at Rimbey Credit Union, Rimbey – June 5, 2016
  • Damaged police vehicles at RCMP Bashaw detachment – June 9, 2016
  • Attempted theft in Ponoka – June 9, 2016
  • Break and enter and stolen truck in Bashaw – June 9, 2016
  • Break and enter Canada Post Office in Mirror – June 9, 2016
  • Attempted theft in Ponoka – June 12, 2016
  • Break and enter Canada Post Office in Mirror – June 12, 2016

On Thursday, May 5, 2016, a CAT 930G wheel loader was used to break through the wall of the ATB Financial in Caroline, Alta. and steal the ATM.

Supplied by Rocky Mountain House RCMP

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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.

READ MORE: Stolen tractor used in Alberta credit union break & enter

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:

  • Armed Robbery at Northside Store in Saddle Lake – June 25, 2014
  • Perjury at the St. Paul Provincial Court – August 10, 2016
  • Break and enter to steal firearm at Warehouse Sports in St. Paul – Feb 17, 2014
  • Break and enter at Guardian Pharmacy in Mundare – April 14, 2015
  • Break and enter at Northside Store in Saddle Lake – June 25, 2014
  • Break and enter, Theft of ATM, at Cardinal Cash n’ Carry in Goodfish – January 12, 2016
  • Break and enter, Theft of ATM at Servus Credit Union in Lamont – March 14, 2016
  • Break and enter, Theft of ATM at Servus Credit Union in Mundare – May 19, 2016
    Break and enter, Theft of ATM at Northside Store in Saddle Lake – May 20, 2016

Tyrone Hunter was arrested in Edmonton on Aug. 19

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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