Newton Police arrested two people for theft of ATM machines at two different locations of Citizen's State Bank — and that led to not only scratching the surface of a crime ring but deportations.
"They have these cards that they put into an ATM and it just starts dishing out money," said Lt. Scott Powell of the Newton Police Department. "We don't think they even have to put in a pin number. The cards we have are being examined by secret service and people to see how they are working."
Reports of this kind of ATM theft began to surface in Colorado and spreading into Kansas.
"There is a large group that is dividing into teams of twos and they are just shellacking Colorado and western Kansas," Powell said. "They have hit Derby, they have hit all over the place. We keep getting pictures of people from different places, but they are different people and are in different cars and on and on."
Maria Bacelan, 22, and Alexandru Ion-Florin, 44, both saw multiple warrants issued Oct. 31 for thefts from ATMs in Newton. Bacelan listed Texas as her place of residence, while Ion-Florin list California. Both had been arrested by the Newton Police Department and booked into the Harvey County Detention Center following a string of thefts between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25. Oct. 31. Both were turned over to ICE.
Both were arrested after Newton Police Officers observed them at different ATM locations in Newton, driving different cars. The couple hit both banks in one night, then wer seen the next day in a different car by officers, again stopping at both bank locations.
Powell said the two suspects took more than $22,000 from two Citizen's Bank Locations.
"They were caught red-handed at an ATM when we got them," Powell said. "... They have a hub somewhere where they are switching out cars and dropping cash."
In all, Ion-Florin is subject to five warrants for thefts of between $1,500 to $25,000 for acts allegedly committed between Oct. 23 and 26 at Citizen's State Bank of Newton. Each warrant carried a bond of $5,000. Bacelan is subject to four warrants for thefts of between $1,500 and $25,000 for acts allegedly committed between Oct. 23 and 25 at Citizens State Bank of Newton. Each carried a bond of $5,000.
"It is kind of weird how this happens. There is something with this card that is confusing the ATM, is the best way to put it," Powell said. "... We are just trying to figure out how to protect the bank and find out how this is working."
Powell said both suspects are from Romania. Bacelan had an outstanding immigration warrant. An immigration warrant on Ion-Florin was issued Oct. 31.
"This is small part of a bigger problem," Powell said. "We believe their group is tied to multiple locations. ... It is a large group, and we do not know how many that is. ... they are bouncing between towns and states."