• Police: Stolen van smashed into store in ATM heist

    By: Ken Lemon


    CASAR, N.C. - Police arrested a third man wanted in connection with an early morning break-in at a Shelby convenience store.

    Police said the men stole a van and crashed it through the front of the store to get an ATM.

    Investigators tracked Anton Smith through the woods near Casar. He was the last of three people arrested and accused of breaking into a store Tuesday.

    Investigators are questioning Smith about five other break-ins in the area.

    For 12 hours, Smith managed to elude search dogs, helicopters and dozens of officers. However, police said he could not get away from nosy neighbors.

    "We continued to receive 911 calls from neighbors with different sightings," said Sheriff Allan Norman.

    The sheriff said a neighbor heard a stolen van crash into the Lisa's Express west of Shelby at 3 a.m.

    A surveillance camera captured it smashing through the wall.

    Investigators said Smith and Octivus Parks, in hooded sweaters, trying to steal the ATM.

    Deputies say they eventually lifted it up and put it into the van, leaving a huge hole in the front of the store.

    "For them to tear this place up like they did is unimaginable," operator Jimmy Connor said.

    There have been reports of crimes like this five times over the past few weeks. Surveillance video from a Gastonia store captured a similar attempted theft. The thieves did not get away with cash during that robbery.

    A neighbor saw the van Tuesday and called 911. A deputy found it and a car following it. The deputy stopped the car and arrested Parks and Khadijah Banks.

    Investigators said Smith crashed the van and ran leaving the ATM and the money. Police did not say how much money was in the ATM.

    Police are still investigating to see if the men are connected to the other cases.

    To see more local news stories, click here.

    Read our past coverage:

    Jan. 9:  Thieves make brazen attempt to pull ATM from store

    Jan. 3:  Video shows Gaston Co. thieves ramming store, stealing ATM

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