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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thieves Targeting ATMs

It may be a bit early to call it a crime trend, but there has been a recent spate of robberies and thefts involving ATMs.

The eye of this burgeoning crime tornado appears to be in the southern city of Volgograd, which has seen at least three bankomat-related crimes so far this year.

No need for masks, I guess

Hi, fellas! No use trying to lock us in! We'll just hold the door open!

Even though getting close enough to spray-paint the lens gives you such a clean look at my face as to render this particular act of obfuscation utterly useless, I think I'll do it anyway. It's a real Reebok cap, by the way, not some Chinese knock-off. Picked it up in Sharm.
On Thursday afternoon, the chief of security at a Gazprombank branch in the city's Traktorozavodsky (Tractor Factory) District went to police and reported that a group of thieves had made off with one of the bank's ATMs stationed  in a neighboring Pyatyorochka discount grocery store, and Interfax reported.

"The ATM was taken away, as they say, in broad daylight," a police source told Interfax. "The people walked into the store, took the ATM, loaded it into a Gazel cargo van and drove it away."

The ATM had an alarm system linked to a local security service, but the security guards didn't respond in time to catch the thieves. The suspects have been identified but not detained, the police source told Interfax.

That may sound like a daring heist, but it was perhaps outdone in terms of pure brazenness by four robbers who stole an ATM from a Raiffeisen branch early Wednesday morning in St. Petersburg — reportedly thanks to a lackluster effort from the bank's security guards.

The robbers walked into the bank's foyer and quickly disconnected all of the wires and loaded it onto a dolly as the security guards watched via CCTV, St. Petersburg police spokesman Vyacheslav Stepchenko told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

"The security guards saw everything on their video monitors," Stepchenko was quoted as saying. "They tried to block the door, but one of the thieves held the door open with his hand and wouldn't allow it to be locked."

I'm guessing the security guards were doing this remotely, with a remote control lock. Presumably there wasn't a tug-o-war with the door handle while the ATM was carted out.

The robbers wheeled the ATM out the door, loaded it into a Volkswagen minivan and drove off. Police are looking for the suspects, KP said.

These guys were some calm and collected characters. Just look at these stills from the video surveillance camera. (Many thanks to the fine folks at — that's Delovoi Peterburg, in case you were wondering — for permission to post these!)

Here is a video report from the northern capital's TV-5.

By the way, I was slightly off about with that "eye of the crime tornado" in Volgograd metaphor earlier. Apparently this was also the third such heist in Piter this year, according to KP.

For those of you who were wondering, the ATM contained 5 million rubles ($148,700). That's enough to hire yourself a Kremlin gray cardinal for a year, though probably not enough to hire his wife.