Theft Ring Busted For Robbery of ATM Machines in Utah

Multiple members of a theft ring were busted for robbery of ATM machines in Utah, almost getting away with thousands of dollars in cash.

Welcome to Utah

Photo by: Tax Credits

Authorities in Utah were closely watching 6 men of Venezuelan nationality after the group flew into Salt Lake International airport and then took separate rental cars only to meet up at a local bank together. There were then observed jackpotting multiple ATM machines in Cottonwood Heights and Sandy. Four of the men were apprehended in Utah, two later in Miami, and the other is still at large.

Jackpotting

Jackpotting is a newer crime to the United States but is quickly becoming a popular way for thieves to rob a bank without ever stepping foot inside. Jackpotting occurs when the outer casing of an ATM is either broken or a key is used to obtain access to the computer inside. The internal hard drive of the ATM machine is then removed briefly in order for the thief to install malware on it. The malware is then activated, often by an outside source which could be a higher up member in the theft ring. Once the hard drive is bugged, it is then reinstalled back into the ATM machine, allowing the thieves to breach the ATM security system and empty the machine of all of its cash.

Computer fraud and robbery

The individuals arrested for pilfering the ATM machines in Utah were booked on federal charges of computer fraud as well as robbery of a bank- the two crimes that are committed during jackpotting of an ATM. Utah has been hit by two different jackpotting rings since November of last year and it is likely this form of bank robbery will continue to increase if security measures for ATMs are not upgraded soon.

Armed Robbery of Salt Lake City Restaurants

Multiple cases of armed robbery with a similar suspect description were reported by Salt Lake City restaurants within a two day stretch prior to the New Year.

String of establishments robbed at gunpoint

Armed Robbery

Photo by: Geoffrey Fairchild

Within a 48 hour window, four different businesses in Salt Lake City, including three restaurants called police to report an armed robbery in which one or two suspects brandishing firearms demanded cash from employees. At the first two locations, a suspect was described as a black man with an accent who was accompanied by another male of Hispanic descent. The next two locations the following day were apparently robbed by a similar black man with an accent who was acting alone. As descriptions of the suspects provided from witnesses at each of the armed robbery locations began to match, authorities noted that the robberies were likely connected.

Robbery vs aggravated robbery

According to Utah Code 76-6-301, “A person commits robbery if:

a) the person unlawfully and intentionally takes or attempts to take personal property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear, and with a purpose or intent to deprive the person permanently or temporarily of the person property; or

b) the person ( . . . ) uses force or fear of immediate force against another in the course of committing a theft or wrongful appropriation.” Robbery is a second degree felony.

If a person commits armed robbery with a dangerous weapon, causes serious bodily harm during the course of the robbery, or carjacks or attempts to carjack a vehicle with an occupant inside, it is then considered by Utah Code 76-6-302 to be aggravated robbery, a first degree felony. When caught, the suspects in the string of robberies throughout Salt Lake City will be facing a first degree felony and five years to life in prison.

Surprising cases of armed robbery

Photo by: Luke Larsson

Photo by: Luke Larsson

When a working firearm is displayed in an armed robbery, there is little doubt that a dangerous weapon was used. There are some instances however, where an item was made to appear dangerous, but in fact wasn’t. Some examples include: an unloaded or fake gun; realistic looking blades or knives; an apparently vicious animal; or even an object such as a stick or finger inside a jacket pocket making the appearance of a gun. While these “weapons” may not have been dangerous, the fear in which they instill in the victim is the same as if an actual weapon was used, and the penalties would likewise be the same. This can surprise some defendants who were perhaps not intending to create fear in someone or were not in a sober state of mind to think rationally. For more information on aggravated or armed robbery and the defense options possible with these charges, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Burglary and Robbery

When a thief breaks into a home and the resident is there, the burglary may turn into robbery instead.  Burglary and robbery are often used interchangeably and although they are both property crimes, the two are different according to Utah state law.

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Burglary defined

Utah code 76-6-202 states that “An actor is guilty of burglary who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or any portion of a building with intent to commit: a felony, theft, […]”. Someone can commit burglary by breaking into a house while the homeowners are away on vacation.  Burglary, or breaking and entering, doesn’t necessarily have to involve the victim themselves, just their home and their belongings.

Robbery in comparison

76-6-301 states “A person commits robbery if: the person […] takes or attempts to take person property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear […]”.  Therefore to be considered robbery, a victim must be present at the scene of the crime and feel threatened or forced to give up their belongs by the intruder.  Likewise, robbery doesn’t have to involve a dwelling or building whereas burglary does.

Penalties for burglary and robbery

76-6-202 defines burglary as a 3rd degree felony “unless it was committed in a dwelling, in which event it is a second degree felony.” Robbery, whether it takes place in a dwelling or in public is always a 2nd degree felony as it involves another person directly.  If convicted, burglary and robbery charges can bring lengthy prison time.  Many criminals with a history of theft don’t fully understand the ramifications when they directly involve the victim or intrude on someone’s home. For anyone facing burglary and/or robbery charges, communicate with a criminal defense attorney immediately.