FRESNO – Police are continuing their search for a suspect who they say stole ATMs from local businesses and then buried them underground in Clovis.
Three businesses were smashed into and had their ATMs stolen earlier this year, with the first incident occurring on New Year’s Day. A surveillance tape caught a truck smashing into the Fast and Easy Mini Mart on East Shields Avenue. Two suspects are then seen tying a rope around the ATM and using the truck to pull it out of the store. Once the ATM was loose, they put it in the bed of the truck and drove away.
In February and March, ATMs were also stolen from The Fort Washington Country Club and Blackbeard’s Family Entertainment Center.
Fresno police have suspected 29-year-old James Ward of Fresno for the crimes.
On Wednesday, police received an anonymous tip that led them to a Clovis business complex at 1146 Barstow Ave. The complex consists of garages rented out by different businesses. Ward owned a plumbing business in the complex, but recently moved out, police said.
Police broke into the concrete ground and dug for more than four hours, according to Sgt. Mark Hudson. They eventually found two ATMs buried “at least six feet down,” he said.
A new tenant had recently moved into the garage where the ATMs were found, but had no idea what was hidden beneath the concrete, police said.
Police believe the two ATMs were two of the three machines stolen earlier this year, but they need to match serial numbers to know for sure.
Anyone with information on this crime or the whereabouts of Ward is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-7867.