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Smash and Grab: Suspects Use Van As Battering Ram, Plow Through Baltimore Pharmacy In Latest ATM Theft

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- People were stunned when they saw the gaping hole in the Walgreens on York Road and Walker Avenue in North Baltimore.

Baltimore City Police said four people were inside a white van that smashed through the front of the store just before 4 a.m. Thursday. Police said the suspects took an ATM inside and sped off.

They left tire tracks in the grass and on the sidewalk leading onto York Road.

"It looked like someone took a dynamite stick and blew the whole front of the store off," Tanya Brown, a frequent customer, told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. "How can you go to different locations and keep doing the same thing and get away with it?"

A few hours later, investigators found a damaged Ford van in Southwest Baltimore. Police said that the van contained evidence that leads them to believe it was used in an ATM theft. They are working to confirm if it was the same van used to break into the Walgreens.

"People need money by any means necessary I guess," said frequent Walgreens customer Sandra Breit. "The whole front entrance is gone. The door is smashed in. It's awful."

There have been more than a dozen thefts like this in the Baltimore area in recent months including several in Baltimore County. A majority have been in Baltimore City.

"They're like bank robberies. They do it in jurisdiction after jurisdiction. It's about all of us working together, and we're going to be doing that. I know we're going to find these people," Mayor Brandon Scott said. He noted that Baltimore police are working with other local police departments and federal law enforcement to catch the suspects.

Baltimore police told WJZ many of the vehicles used in these thefts are stolen and that has been challenging for detectives in trying to capture suspects undeterred by surveillance cameras. They are unsure if these cases are part of an organized ring.

"We were able to have a decrease of 58%. This year we had 29 versus 70 for the whole of last year," BPD Commissioner Michael
Harrison told WJZ.

The commissioner said he has started an initiative to stop these ATM thefts. That includes a detective in every district working exclusively on such cases.

"Nothing really surprises me lately. I think
people are desperate. These are desperate times," Walgreens customer Susan Hurd told Hellgren.

Commissioner Harrison said they are processing surveillance video from the scene.


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