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Police Searching For Band Of Thieves Targeting ATMs, Pharmacies In Philadelphia

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By Al Novack, Oren Liebermann, Mike Dougherty, Elizabeth Hur

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police and the FBI are searching for a band of thieves targeting ATMs and pharmacies. There are at least five suspects and investigators say they know they have hit ten times so far.

Earlier this month, you heard about one of the gang’s first burglaries First on 3.

Monday night, authorities announced they have created a Special Task Force to crack this case and have identified one of the suspects, Dennis Woods.

37-year-old Dennis Woods who, according to police, also uses the name Dennis Boyce is the alleged mastermind behind the series of bank and pharmacy break-ins and thefts. Some of them were caught on surveillance video and show: Woods and crew dressed in all black, covering their faces with ski masks and even a helmet. Police say they usually strike in the overnight hours armed with various tools.

Lt. John Walker with the Philadelphia Police Department explained, “They cut the power, the bank or the institution gets notified there’s no power believing it’s a power outage. They’re using crow bars, we know they have blow torches and in the last three of these 10 jobs, we actually had fires.”

In an Eyewitness News Exclusive earlier this month, we told you about a PNC bank burglary on Frankford Avenue (see previous story). The thieves in that case, we’re told, forced their way in through a back door of an adjacent building, broke through the wall and breached the ATM, stealing $60,000.

“I wouldn’t call them good criminals, their success rate is 30% so far, they’re just trying to take an opportunity and gain some quick money,” Walker said.

Based on surveillance video investigators recovered, police believe Woods is working with at least five other men. In all, authorities say they have burglarized ten banks and pharmacies since May throughout the city:

1)     On 5/5, 9400 State Road (Delaire Pharmacy)

2)     On 6/22, 1001 N 2nd Street (Hyperion Bank)

3)     On 7/24, 7615 Lindbergh Blvd (Rite Aid)

4)     On 7/29, 4356 Frankford Avenue (PNC Bank)

5)     On 8/5, 8800 Frankford Avenue (K-Mart)

6)     On 8/9, 7960 Verree Rd (Verree Pharmacy)

7)     On 8/10, 2900 Island Avenue(Wells Fargo)

8)     On 8/10, 5918 Rising Sun Avenue (Wells Fargo)

9)     On 8/12, 1544 Packer Avenue (PNC Bank)

10)  On 8/12, 3rd & Oregon (Wells Fargo)

The suspects cut the power lines behind the shopping center at 15th and Packer Avenue early Monday morning, knocking out power to the PNC bank with the ATM outside.

Earlier Monday morning, police say the thieves tried to hit an ATM at the Wells Fargo bank on 3rd and Oregon Avenue, apparently damaging the outside of the machine.

And earlier in the weekend, police say the group tried to steal from an ATM in the 2900 block of Island Avenue at another Wells Fargo bank.  The thieves broke open the cover of the machine and tried to use a blow torch to get through the door of the safe. A nearby Rite-Aid may also have been one of the targets.

Detectives are asking the public’s help in finding Woods, who has two known addresses. One in the 700 block of Tanyard Road in Deptford and one in the 2400 block of South American Street in South Philadelphia.

Lt. Walker added, “Most of these banks have been stand alone and where the fires have started, they’ve been in concrete structures. Our concern is they go into other types of strip malls that aren’t built as concrete structures and that spark hits wood and wood takes off and we’re concerned we can lose a strip mall here.”

Investigators say the suspects, so far, got away with prescription drugs and “well over” $100,000 in cash. Anyone with information is asked to contact Philadelphia Police.

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