Local/State

Suspect named, surveillance released in ATM fires, robberies

Monday, August 12, 2013

Police have named a suspect in Monday's ATM arson at a bank in South Philadelphia and say he's behind many more.

Police believe Dennis Woods, a.k.a. Dennis Boyce, of South Philadelphia, and several accomplices are responsible for a rash of burglaries and ATM robberies since early May.

Philadelphia Police released surveillance video Monday night of the bandits at work.

They are seen robbing a Rite Aid in the 7600 block of Lindbergh Boulevard in Southwest Philadelphia. They stole prescription drugs.

And police say they used a grinder to break into an ATM and steal cash.

"The method of entry has changed throughout," said Philadelphia Police Lieutenant John Walker.

Walker, of Southwest Detectives, said Dennis Woods is a prime suspect identified as part of the ring.

Walker said Woods and as many as 5 accomplices are responsible for at least 10 burglaries or ATM break-ins.

Still photographs from a Wells Fargo Bank branch on Rising Sun Avenue show the thieves using a torch on the ATM.

A task force has been created to take down the criminal ring.

"We are also reaching out to the tri-state area," said Walker. "We believe this crew may be operating along the 95 corridor."

Police say the method of operation changes.

During some jobs, Woods and his crew allegedly cut the power and phone lines.

In others, whole electrical meters are torn off. The thieves then return hours later to burglarize.

They've successfully broken into only two of the ATMs, but allegedly got away with tens of thousands of dollars.

"We know these people are in the area," said Walker. "People know them. They are in the Philadelphia region. They've created a lot of havoc and inconvenience for people."

In the South Philadelphia ATM fire, firefighters were called shortly after 5:00 a.m. Monday to the Wells Fargo Bank at 3rd Street and Oregon Avenue.

A passerby called 911 after seeing a fire in the bank. As firefighters worked to extinguish the flames officers noticed the damaged rear door.

Officers went to investigate further but were held back due to a chemical released in the building, used to suppress flames. SWAT was called and they suited up in gas masks and went inside.

Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Scott Drissel explained, "With the chemical inside the building it was safety risk for the officers out there without gas masks so that's why SWAT has the special training, they came out and cleared the building."

As firefighters continued their work, investigators from Philadelphia police and the FBI were on the scene in the parking lot of Oregon Market. A Wells Fargo representative confirms there was a burglary attempt on the front ATM. Police believe some sort of blow torch was used in an effort to get at the money.

Now police are trying to figure out if the incident is related to two other recent events involving bank ATMs.

Sunday night around 11:30 p.m. an ATM at the PNC Bank on Packer Avenue, near South 16th Street, was hit. Investigators believe power was cut to the building in an attempt to get at the money in the machine.

This past weekend an ATM at the Wells Fargo at the Penrose Shopping Center in Southwest Philadelphia was also targeted. In that case, police believe those responsible pried open one layer of the machine then possibly took a blowtorch to get to the cash.

As for the most recent incident, there are surveillance cameras on the bank and nearby, so investigators are hoping to pull footage that will help in this case.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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south philadelphia, philadelphia, fire, vandalism, wells fargo, local/state
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