Forklift Crime Spree Hits Tennessee Community

forklifts used to steal atmsTwo separate incidents involving stolen forklifts and burglarized Automated Teller Machines in a rural Tennessee community may be the work of the same criminals, according police.

The most recent attempted theft occurred Wednesday, October 29, at the Farmer’s Bank in White House, Tennessee, which is located about 22 miles north of Nashville. About 4:15 a.m., automated alarms caused police to rush to the bank, where they found the bank’s outside ATM lying on its side on the ground with a forklift still running nearby.

The suspects got away.

No Money But a Lot of Damage

While thieves apparently were unable to get any money out of the ATM before fleeing, they caused an estimated $50,000 damage to the bank’s property, according to a report in The Tennessean.

White House Police Chief Pat Brady said the forklift may have been stolen from a nearby construction site.

“There is a Bojangles restaurant being built across the street,” Brady said. “They may have hot wired the ignition to the forklift. They drove it across the street to commit the burglary.”

A stolen truck that was recovered later that same morning in nearby Millersville may be connected to the attempted ATM theft, Brady said.

Surveillance Video Not Helpful

The burglary was captured on videotape by the bank’s surveillance cameras, but the footage was not helpful to investigators.

“It shows the forklift pretty much dismantling the ATM,” Brady said. “But because of he angle you can’t see anyone driving the forklift. You can just see it moving.”

Investigators are canvassing other nearby businesses to see if additional surveillance footage may have captured the thieve’s images.

Meanwhile, Brady said the incident may the work of the same thieves who attempted to use a stolen forklift to steal an ATM at another Farmer’s Bank in White House less than two months ago.

“The suspects in that case used a forklift and a stolen vehicle to commit the crime,” the chief said. “They got the forklift stuck and abandoned it. I think there is a good possibility that it’s the same people involved in this case.”

A third incident involving a stolen forklift and a burglarized ATM occurred in nearby Goodlettsville two days after the August 29 incident, he added.

In that case, thieves used a stolen Bobcat equipped with forks to lift an ATM off its foundation at the Renaissance Bank, acccordig to Goodlettsville Police Deputy Chief Charlie Marrow. That didn’t work out so well for them, he said.

“The ATM was so heavy that it lifted the Bobcat up and the suspects abandoned it,” Marrow said. No money was taken in that incident, either.

‘Smash and  Dash’ Forklift Crimes

ATM thefts involving stolen forklifts are becoming so common that they already have their own nickname: “Smash and Dash”.

Smash and Dash crimes are especially popular in areas where there is a boom in housing — meaning a lot of construction sites containing unattended forklifts and drive-through banks with outdoor ATMs.

At the height of the 2006 housing boom in Phoenix, Arizona, for example, there were 21 attempted thefts of ATMs using forklifts. And it’s not just a US phenomenon. Smash and Dash crimes also have been reported in Canada, New Zealand, Estonia, Scotland and Indonesia.



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