Crime

Two Florida men use a blow torch on an ATM. But they ‘bungled the job,’ cops say

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office released this surveillance video image of a man in a black half nose mask with black sunglasses, a black leather style jacket, camo pants, desert tan military style boots, and black gloves, using a blow torch to try and break into a safe on May 31, 2019.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office released this surveillance video image of a man in a black half nose mask with black sunglasses, a black leather style jacket, camo pants, desert tan military style boots, and black gloves, using a blow torch to try and break into a safe on May 31, 2019. Facebook

In the annals of Florida men going to an awful lot of trouble to break into an ATM, a blow torch episode in Okaloosa can’t quite measure up to a January mystery in which Pembroke Pines police and FBI agents found a narrow tunnel under a busy intersection leading to a Chase bank.

But the Friday incident in Northwest Florida has its own brand of “Florida man” ineptitude to merit mention.

According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, two men tried to use a blow torch to get into an ATM on the second floor of the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island.

But all that hard work — and visible work because cameras that are always ringing ATMs like a movie set — was for naught because the pair “bungled the job when the hinges welded shut,” deputies said.

Deputies released surveillance photo images of the suspects on Facebook on Monday. According to them, a worker who had come to service the ATM Saturday found burn marks on the hinges and locks and saw that the heat welded the hinges shut.

Two men, faces covered, approached the bank machine around 3:15 a.m., according to the surveillance video. One of the men — who wore a black half-nose mask with black sunglasses, a black leather style jacket, camo pants, desert tan military style boots, and black gloves — worked the safe, deputies said.

The other man — clad in a tan toboggan-style hat, a scarf hiding his face, a black long sleeve Under Armour shirt, black gloves, black shorts, and white tube socks with multiple colored stripes — is seen in the video with a crow bar. He appeared to be the lookout, deputies said.

But he wasn’t as observant as a master criminal might be.

“Instead of cutting the ATM with the blow torch, the would-be thief welded the metal parts shut and the pair left with nothing,” deputies said.

All that work and how much can you get from an ATM anyway?

Since you asked, we learned that the average-sized ATM can carry about $200,000 but few do, according to Time. In off-hours — like 3 in the morning — most carry $10,000 or less.

And then there are measures that make ATM thefts a folly.

ATMs have many fail-safe devices built in, like numerous doors that would take at least 15 minutes apiece to crack, and automatic relock doors that are triggered if you drop the machine or heat it.

“Then when you do get it open, you discover it was almost out of cash. So, yes, there could be life-changing money inside or you could just be going to jail for a thousand or so dollars,” voice actor Rutger Haversham shared on Quora.

Empty-handed or not, deputies ask that anyone who has information on the “bungled blow torch burglary” contact the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office at 850-651-7400 or Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at 850-863-8477 or EmeraldCoastCrimeStoppers.com.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
Support my work with a digital subscription
SUBSCRIBE TODAY
  Comments