In the latest in a brazen and unabated trend, a group of thieves drove into a 7-Eleven on the cobblestone streets of Fells Point and stole an ATM.
“We heard a bang noise, and we thought it was our delivery truck coming,” said store manager Connie Mazariegos. “They were slamming into the window. It took them like eight tries before they finally broke through the glass.”
For more than a year, small businesses across the city have been experiencing such thefts of ATMs. Recently, a 7-Eleven off Falls Road in Hampden had a truck drive through its storefront and take an ATM. Surveillance video showed two vans working in tandem.
And over the weekend, the photographer Maggie Ybarra, who first noted the trend last year, documented the discovery of an “ATM graveyard” — 11 empty machines discarded behind a vacant house in West Baltimore, behind the 1400 block of N. Rosedale St. She said a number of discarded machines have been found in that area over the past year and a half.
Police have not announced any arrests in the cases. Chief spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge said police have assigned a detective in each district to be “hyper-focused in coordinating, tracking and disseminating intel to apprehend those responsible for these thefts,” as well as talking to businesses to give them tips to secure their machines. She said there’s been a 52 percent decrease this year in reported ATM thefts, from 23 cases this year compared with 48 at this time last year.
Mazariegos had heard about the trend, but didn’t think her store in the 1600 block would be hit. It was about 4:30 a.m. and a police officer had just left to respond to another call, she said.
“It was more shocking than scary once we realized they weren’t going to come after us, guns blazing try to rob the whole store,” she said. “They were completely [dressed] in black, gloves on. They had it timed; one guy kept checking his watch. They had a timer!”
She said they took off east toward Broadway.
After the sun rose Tuesday morning, Mazariegos stood outside the store, where bricks from the building’s facade were scattered around the sidewalk. A man strolled by and asked if the store was open. Mazariegos said “no.”
“Looks like it is,” he responded with a wry smile, referring to the hole in the building.
Police said the citywide robbery unit is investigating the cases.
Sun reporter Christine Condon contributed to this article.