Police investigating ATM explosion outside Wells Fargo bank in Chestnut Hill

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Thursday, December 22, 2022
ATM explodes outside Wells Fargo bank in Chestnut Hill
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Police are investigating an ATM explosion at the Wells Fargo bank in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Police are investigating an ATM explosion in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.

It happened outside the Wells Fargo bank on the 7700 block of Crittenden Street near Mermaid Lane just after 4 a.m. Thursday.

The blast blew the machine apart, though it does not appear the cash box portion was blown open.

No injuries were reported.

Gregory Tucker heard the blast.

"About 4 or 430 a big boom. I looked out the window thinking it was a car and that was it. Just heard a big boom," said Tucker.

Tucker says he didn't see the suspects, but he and police say the same ATM was blown open in March of 2021.

"Once they did it before, there was money out here. So damn, I was hoping there was money out here today!" Tucker added with a laugh.

Police say there has been a rise in ATM thefts.

"There's definitely been an uptick in the last several months. I want to say it probably goes back to September," said Philadelphia Police Inspector Charles Layton.

Layton says he can't comment on the investigation, as a joint task force with ATF is handling the case and others involving explosives.

But he says a rash of ATM robberies is underway and most don't involve explosives. In many cases, criminals try and steal the entire ATM.

"A lot of these ATMs in the stores are not fastened to the ground. They are plugged in, they are loose, and very easy to get out of there," said Layton.

Investigators believe multiple outfits are stealing the ATMs. They suspect one group is responsible for upwards of a dozen ATM thefts or attempted thefts, but detectives have not been able to identify the suspects.

They warn the criminals are casing private businesses prior to the crimes.

Layton says business owners need to be vigilant.

"They come back later and rob these stores point of gun," he said. "It would be like taking the entire cash register. They are taking the entire ATM. So I think we can do a better job of the store owners fastening them to the ground."