LAFAYETTE/FORT OGLETHORPE, GA (WRCB) - A rash of vending machine thefts is costing some local businesses several hundred dollars each break-in. It has officers in North Georgia on the lookout for the same group they think is responsible.
The vending machine thefts have happened over the last two weeks. Detectives with Lafayette Police, Fort Oglethorpe Police, and the Walker County Sheriff's Office are on the lookout for what they believe to be the same trio. They want the public's help identifying the group that was caught on camera.
"Coming up in a car, at least three people, because one person is driving and two will get out and manipulate the machines," Lafayette Police Chief Bengie Clift said.
Lafayette Police obtained surveillance video from Fountain Plaza Car Wash on North Main Street. You can see a yellow four-door Nissan Sentra pull up. Two guys jump out of the passenger side, then run back and forth from the vending machines. Both are white and under 30 years old.
The daylight reveals they used a tool, likely a crowbar, to pry the machines open and steal all of the money inside.
"They're doing more damage than they'll actually make off the machines," Chief Clift said.
It's the same story at several businesses from Lafayette, up to Fort Oglethorpe.
"More than likely when you have a rash of these things happen or in a cluster, that type of things, it's usually the same perpetrators," Fort Oglethorpe Police Chief Jeff Holcomb said.
Each busted vending machine costs the business owner around $500 in damage, plus the money they got away with, though that's only about $30 to $40 per machine.
"Usually it's people thinking they can get some quick money fast to buy some drugs. That's a simple as it gets," Chief Holcomb said.
Chief Holcomb says they have evidence that points to it being the same group responsible for multiple vending machine thefts and a burglary at the laundromat Wash Daze.
"It's frustrating because it's just so hard to catch," Chief Clift said.
Investigators hope the public recognizes this team of thieves and reports them. If caught, they'll face several theft and criminal damage charges.
"When we get them, we're going to prosecute them, each one as a felony that was we can maybe slow this down a little bit," Chief Clift said.
Lafayette Police say they've been stopping a lot of yellow cars, but still not a single lead. Business owners we talked to off camera say they're frustrated.
If you have any info that could help identify them, call police in Lafayette, Fort Oglethorpe or the Walker County Sheriff's Office.
Wednesday, July 23 2014 1:37 PM EDT2014-07-23 17:37:11 GMT
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