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Police in Dickinson, North Dakota — a tiny town located about 97 miles west of Bismark and is home to the Dakota Dinosaur Museum — said somebody stole an industrial-sized forklift to try to rob the ATM at the drive-in banking area of the local Wells Fargo bank branch.
The incident occurred about 12:14 a.m. Wednesday, September 30. No money was taken in the theft and the thief apparently fled before police arrived, although a local man found at the scene was briefly detained by police until investigators realized he was an employee of the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings who had just closed up.
Stolen Forklift Damaged
While damage to the ATM was not yet known, the forklift sustained an estimated $2,000 damage in the incident. It was taken to a repair facility after it was learned that it had a broken hydraulic line.
The forklift had been stolen Prairie Winds Apartments, a complex under construction located about a mile away from the bank. Police said the thief must have driven the stolen forklift all the way from there to the bank before unsuccessfully trying to rip the ATM machine from its bearings and steal all of its cash.
Lisa Roers, business manager for the company that owned the forklifts, told The Dickinson Press that the keys had not been left in the vehicle. Investigators were looking at surveillance video in an attempt to identify the criminal, she said.
‘Smash and Dash’ Forklift Crimes
The North Dakota incident is just the latest in a type of crime that is growing in popularity.
In White House, Tennessee, detectives last year investigated two separate incidents involving stolen forklifts and burglarized ATMs.
The most recent attempted theft occurred October 29 at the Farmer’s Bank’s branch in the town, 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.
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 and UK phenomenon. Smash and Dash crimes also have been reported in Canada, New Zealand, Estonia, Scotland and Indonesia.