Lengthy & On-Going Investigation Results In Four Houston Area Men Charged In Mid-State ATM Thefts
21 ATM Thefts or Attempts in Middle Tennessee During Past Year Resulting in More Than $732,000 Loss
NASHVILLE (STL.News) Four Houston, Texas men are facing federal charges after a lengthy investigation by the FBI into a series of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) thefts in middle Tennessee and elsewhere, announced U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Elijah Diaz, 19; Troy Alan Parker, 18; Willie Charles White, 21; and Abraham Woods, 32, were arrested on the morning of April 26, at a hotel in Holladay, Tennessee, and charged with conspiracy and bank larceny, following the theft from an ATM machine in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, hours earlier.
According to the criminal complaint, for more than a year, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force in Nashville has been investigating ATM thefts. Typically, the method of these thefts involve crews of individuals who steal a heavy duty capacity pickup truck, obtain large J-hooks and an industrial chain and then scout a free-standing ATM to target. These crews then use the stolen truck and approach the ATM in the early morning hours, wearing hoodies and masks. The shell of the ATM is then pried open and the J-hooks are attached to the safe and to the truck. The truck is then used to pull open the safe door, allowing access to the cash inside. After travelling to a pre-determined location, the crews offload the cash into other vehicles and abandon the stolen truck to avoid detection and apprehension.
On April 4, 2021, an ATM theft occurred at a Wilson Bank & Trust in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Video surveillance shows two suspects wearing dark clothing and ski masks arriving at the bank at 1:14 a.m. driving a Chevrolet 2500 pickup. The suspects then pried open the shell of the ATM and used the chain and hooks to force open the safe, before taking the cash and fleeing.
The investigation determined that the Chevrolet truck used in this theft had been stolen earlier in the evening on April 3rd. A review of the surveillance footage in the hours preceding the theft, identified a black Dodge Durango with a Texas license plate and the driver appeared to have been casing the machine. The FBI has also been coordinating the ATM theft investigations with the FBI Houston Office and the Houston Police Department Major Offenders Criminal Apprehension Team. The video was shared with Houston law enforcement and Willie White was quickly identified as the driver of the black Dodge Durango. Investigators also determined that the Murfreesboro Police Department had conducted a traffic stop of the Durango on April 2, 2021 and identified Elijah Diaz and Troy Parker as the occupants. Officers also noticed crowbars and chains in the rear of the vehicle.
On April 25, 2021, Houston law enforcement informed the Nashville FBI that White and others were in Nashville and were preparing for an ATM theft. At 2:27 a.m. on April 26th, an ATM theft occurred at the Wilson Bank & Trust in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Surveillance cameras captured the theft where an individual in a hooded sweatshirt pried open the shell of the machine while another individual positioned a stolen pickup truck, attached hooks to the safe and drove forward, ripping open the safe. Both individuals then fled the scene with the cash from the ATM. The stolen pickup truck was found abandoned in Wilson County and contained several money cartridges from an ATM, scattered $20 bills, and crowbars. A review of the surveillance video preceding the theft also showed a black dodge Durango which appeared to be casing the ATM at 9:35 p.m. the previous evening.
Later in the morning on April 26th, the Dodge Durango was located at the Days Inn Hotel, near Interstate 40 in Holladay, Tenn. Shortly thereafter, the four defendants were arrested and investigators recovered more than $88,000 in cash. Investigators had also determined that the four had stayed at the Westin Hotel when they arrived in Nashville before carrying out the ATM theft and recovered several surveillance photos of the defendants and the vehicles used, including the Dodge Durango.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 10 years in prison.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.