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Burglars haul away ATM

April 25, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

CASCADE - When Tricia and Greg DeLauter purchased a portable automated teller machine for their convenience store, they expected people to make withdrawals, but not like the one someone made early Tuesday.

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State Police say a motorist backed a truck into the G.T.'s Handi Mart building and took the ATM machine.

"It was very aggressive," said Tricia DeLauter.

Maryland State Police said there was a substantial amount of cash in the ATM, but would not be more specific.

In the 15 years that the couple has owned G.T.'s Handi Mart on Military Road, the store has been robbed a few times, but never like this, Tricia DeLauter said.

A year ago, a would-be burglar threw cinder blocks at the front glass doors in an attempt to get in but the alarm system scared him away, she said.

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Tuesday's burglary was carried out a few hours after the store closed at 11 p.m.

With security cameras recording the events, a pickup truck with a man at the wheel smashed through the front glass door and knocked the ATM from the platform on which it had been bolted to the ground, said Maryland State Police Sgt. D.R. Stottlemyer.

"They aimed for it (the ATM). There's no doubt," he said.

Once inside, the driver and at least one other man picked up the ATM and threw it into the bed of the truck. Once the ATM was aboard, the older model, light-colored pickup headed east on Md. 550.

The pickup truck probably didn't incur much damage, Stottlemyer said.

He said he wasn't sure how much the four- foot high ATM machine weighed. Nothing else was taken.

Descriptions of the men involved were unavailable.

The store may have been targeted because of its remote location near the former U.S. Army base at Fort Ritchie, Stottlemyer said.

Those involved may have known that the store had a camera and alarm system and moved quickly because of that, Stottlemyer said

"It was well thought out, the burglars knew what they were looking for," he said.

The recording showed that the entire incident took only 1.3 minutes, according to Tricia DeLauter.

When the alarm was activated, the DeLauters were notified at their Cascade home at about 1:50 a.m., she said.

DeLauter said she was shocked to hear that the burglars had been so bold.

"It's amazing," she said.

The DeLauters purchased the used portable ATM from a Hagerstown company in November 1998 for about $7,000.

"We thought it would be good for business," she said.

Police estimated the damage to the store at around $5,000. The couple has insurance on the building, said Tricia DeLauter.

"We're just glad no one was harmed. That's our utmost concern," said Tricia DeLauter.

Anyone with information about the burglary may call Maryland State Police at 301-739-2101.

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