They’re bold, reckless and sometimes can extract an ATM faster than it takes to make a legal transaction on one, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Masked, apparently unarmed ATM rustlers have lassoed a half dozen cash-laden automatic teller machines from rural convenience stores in Southwestern Pennsylvania over the past two months, getting away with tens of thousands of dollars. Similar thefts have occurred in West Virginia and the Maryland panhandle. “I’m awestruck over the fact that it happened. I’ve never had an experience like this before,” said Sheena Weimer, 21, a day after bandits stole a portable ATM from her convenience store.
Driving stolen vehicles, the thieves smash the glass double doors, enter and wrap a chain or steel cable around the machine. The chain is hooked to the vehicle, which is used to snatch the unit from its mooring and through the broken doors. They heave their prize into the truck and drive away. “It was just like a SWAT team operation,” said one ATM distributor. “They were in, lassoed that thing, and they were out of there in 30 seconds on the tape.” In a typical case, burglars strike minutes after the stores close, around 1 or 2 a.m., and just after police call it a night.