Newton police make arrests in ATM thefts

Crime

Newton police this week arrested two people suspected of stealing from ATMs in a high-tech interstate theft ring.

Police arrested 44-year-old Alexandru Ion-Florin and 22-year-old Maria Bacelan on Oct. 27 on suspicion of thefts at Newton’s Citizens State Bank locations.

A total of $22,600 had been taken in six cases.

Over the past few weeks, area police departments had received warnings from banks and other law enforcement agencies about ATM thefts in Colorado and western Kansas. The thieves were using special cards that allowed the ATMs to dispense money without the use of pin numbers.

Both of Newton’s Citizens State Bank branches were hit multiple times on Oct. 26, and the bank captured two suspects on surveillance video. The following day, a Newton officer spotted a car with Texas license plates stopped at first the north and then the south Citizens Bank ATMs. 

The officer stopped the car, and the occupants matched the description of the suspects in the surveillance video.

The two suspects were arrested and booked into the Harvey County Jail. The two are believed to be part of a large-scale theft ring, and both are believed to be from Romania. They are being held on a detainer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We know there’s a large group of people doing that and they’re going in groups of two, so we know we caught two of them, but we also know we didn’t catch anywhere near to all of them. So that’s the concern, that there’s a lot more out there doing the same thing and we don’t know who they are or where they’re going to hit next,” Lt. Scott Powell said.

Some cash and ATM cards were seized from the suspects’ vehicle. Newton police are now working with the Secret Service to learn more about how the thefts occurred. 

The investigation is ongoing.

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