by: Greg Suskin Updated:
BELMONT, N.C. - It was a brazen crime that happened in the middle of the night in Belmont and it was all caught on surveillance video.
Thieves targeted the C Mart convenience store Monday located on South Point Road.
The video shows the thieves backing a white van to the front of the store when one man ties a chain to one of the doors and yanks it completely off its hinges.
Once inside, the man tries to tie the same chain around the ATM, looking for a big cash getaway, but there was one thing these thieves didn't know: the ATM only had $20 inside.
Store owner Randy Cheema was upset when he arrived within minutes after being alerted when the store's security alarm went off. He couldn't believe the mess the thieves left behind.
"It's pretty horrifying just to watch it. You know, seeing your own business getting destroyed by somebody else that don't care," said Cheema.
The thieves made a big mess but they didn't get away with anything.
Cheema said when his neighbors heard the alarm they flashed their porch lights, which caused the thieves to take off, leaving the ATM behind.
Police believe the thieves are connected to other ATM thefts in Cleveland, Gaston and York counties.
Five stores damaged in destructive crime spree to steal ATMs
CLOVER, S.C. -- Someone drove a stolen van into the front wall of a York County convenience store early Thursday morning and ripped the ATM right out of the floor.
It's the fifth similar crime reported in the area in the past three weeks, and the cost of this trail of destruction is quickly adding up.
Police and sheriff's deputies in York and Gaston counties believe the same people are behind all of it.
In each case, a stolen van was rammed into the store, and the ATM was taken, even though it's bolted to the floor.
The Lake Wylie mini-mart sits right on the state line in York County on Highway 274.
Owner Victor Boulware told Channel 9 it'll cost at least $40,000 to fix the front wall, now boarded up with sheets of plywood.
Boulware was called at 1:30 a.m., after sheriff's deputies responded to an alarm there.
"There were bricks all over the floor. It was very upsetting," he said.
The ATM stolen from the York County store was found on Bud Wilson Road in Gaston County early Thursday. It had been emptied of $6,000.
A van believed to be used in the crime was found abandoned in woods off Crowder's Creek Road. It had been stolen from a Belmont-area electrician.
Customers at a Lake Wylie mini-mart were shocked to see the damage, and find out how it happened.
"I was dumbfounded at first about it, because I've never seen nothing like that happen," said Daniel Cheshire.
The four other stores hit since Dec. 23 were in Gastonia, Gaston county, Kings Mountain and Belmont.
Surveillance cameras captured the incident as the van backed into the store repeatedly until the wall collapsed, and two men in hoodies grabbed the ATM. It was also found empty.
Boulware said someone knows something and will hopefully help police. Until then, he's already installed a new ATM.
"It's disappointing what this world has come to where an honest person really can't make a living without worrying about what's going to happen at night when you lay your head down," he said.
The suspects are believed to be white males. There were two men visible in the surveillance video from Gastonia but they were wearing dark clothes and hoodies.
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