Police trying to piece together ATM theft jigsaw

Police trying to piece together ATM theft jigsaw

Pol Gen Panya Mamen inspects an ATM at the Kor Kit Petroleum station in Phunphin district of Surat Thani on Saturday. It was one of four machines in the province where a total of 2.6 million baht in cash had been stolen. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)
Pol Gen Panya Mamen inspects an ATM at the Kor Kit Petroleum station in Phunphin district of Surat Thani on Saturday. It was one of four machines in the province where a total of 2.6 million baht in cash had been stolen. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

As police continue to hunt for the thieves who robbed Government Savings Bank ATMs, the evidence is far from conclusive and the focus now is on the rental car services the suspects might have used.

However, they have yet to determine the exact number of the thieves or all the days on which the thefts took place. The GSB on Aug 23 admitted that more than 12 million baht had been stolen from 21 of its ATMs in six provinces between Aug 1 and 8. It is now believed that some thefts took place even earlier.

The state-owned bank delayed publicising the incidents as the thefts did not involve money stolen from customer accounts. It also believed the ATM supplier could apply a software fix to deal with the problem. However, it subsequently had to shut down hundreds of machines as the security problem became worse. 

Pol Gen Panya estimated on Saturday at least six eastern Europeans were in the gang, up from five he had indicated on Wednesday. The investigator said on Friday that there could be as many as nine suspects based on the CCTV footage.

He said the thefts started in Phuket between July 9 and 30 and then in Surat Thani on the night of Aug 1, adding that the gang used two different cars in the two provinces. Another car was also thought to have been used, he added but gave no details.

The 21 emptied NCR-manufactured ATMs were in Phuket, Surat Thani, Chumphon, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi and Bangkok. All were infected with malware that forced them to churn out cash.

In Surat Thani alone, the theives took out 2.6 million baht from four machines.

One of the ATMs was at the Kor Kit Petroleum petrol station in Phunphin district, which Pol Gen Panya and other officers inspected on Saturday to gather more evidence.

Investigators are looking for more evidence including CCTV footage in areas where car rentals were popular, he said.


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