Two ATM thefts may be related

Police say the forklift was stolen from a nearby church and used to pull the ATM out of the ground. / Lexington PD/WACH

Two suspects in Lexington county used a stolen truck and a forklift to steal an ATM machine from a bank early Sunday, according to Lexington authorities.

Georgetown County sheriff's investigators want to find out if the thieves in Lexington are the same ones who stole an ATM machine from a bank in Pawleys Island last month.

Georgetown sheriff's spokesman Russell Goodale says the two crimes could be connected and Georgetown County investigators will be contacting detectives in Lexington county to compare notes.

In the Lexington theft, officers responded to an alarm at the First National Bank around 5:30 a.m. Sunday and found the stolen forklift and wires sticking out of a hole where the ATM used to be.

Investigators say the forklift was stolen from the site of a church under construction. Surveillance photos show two men using the forklift to pull the ATM out of the ground and load it into a silver Dodge Ram pickup truck. Police think the truck was stolen from a nearby apartment complex.

In the Pawleys Island incident, a thief also used a stolen forklift to load an ATM machine into a truck.

Anyone with information about the Lexington theft is asked to contact the Lexington Police Department.

If you know anything about the Pawleys Island theft, call Georgetown County Sheriff's Office at (843) 546-5102. Anonymous tips can also be sent by using Text-A-Tip, Just text the word "GCSOTIP" to 274637 and your message from any text-enabled cell phone.

S tealing ATM's is getting to be a hot crime. more than 100 machines were stolen in Texas alone last year. In Atlanta, thieves took off with 35 ATM's.

T he big bank machines can hold up to $200,000, but that's rare. During off hours, they'll usually have less than $10,000.

ATM 's aren't an easy steal. The bank machines weigh up to 3,000 pounds. Many of them today employ thermodetectors that can sense the heat from a blowtorch and sound an alarm.

S urveillance video is also getting better. Police spotted the license plate number off a car that rammed into a Hartsville store in 2009 and two suspects were arrested.

A lso, ATM manufacturers are using new, tougher metal alloys.

Police say some guys rammed a pickup into a convenience store in Florence in 2008, tried to crack open the ATM with a crowbar, couldn't do it, abandoned the ATM and took off. Four men were arrested.

T he manager of an ATM service company in Myrtle Beach says GPS devices are becoming popular add-ons to the machines. He says they won't stop a theft, but they can track down an a-t-m once it's gone.

T here are more than 1.5 million ATM's nationwide.

WACH contributed to this report.