ATM theft suspect arrested at airport: police

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A main suspect in the automated teller machine (ATM) theft that occurred in Tainan last Sunday was arrested by police at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport as he attempted to leave the country on Friday.

The robbery attracted much attention nationwide since it was the first time the country had seen thieves rip an entire ATM unit out of a bank wall, according to local media. Changhua County (彰化縣) police found the abandoned ATM unit early Friday morning. Officers recovered the machine from a riverside to find it had been torn apart and emptied of cash. A special investigation team is continuing to pursue the two other suspects, stated officers. The arrested suspect, Hung Chia-hung (洪嘉宏), aged 31, previously tried to steal ATM units in Taoyuan’s Luchu District (蘆竹), Bade District (八德), Daxi District (大溪) and Pingzhen District (平鎮). After failing to steal a machine at least five times, Hung admitted to police he decided to try his chances in Tainan. Hung raided a local bank and removed an entire ATM unit containing about NT$4.11 million in cash in less than seven minutes. CCTV caught him on camera: a masked suspect in a baseball cap, who cut the electric wires and removed an ATM unit installed inside the Rende Branch of King’s Town Bank (京城銀行), before dashing off in a 3.5-ton truck at around 4 a.m on Sunday. Security guards were alerted by an alarm but by the time they arrived at the bank the ATM had already been removed and the robbers had disappeared, police said. The ATM unit weighed at least 100 kilograms, according to bank employees. According to police, the thieves appeared to be very familiar with the bank’s operations and its security systems. The critical clue that led the police to the suspect were the fingerprints Hung left on an “out of order” sign when attempting to steal a machine in Pingzhen District.

Officers said he might have placed the sign on top to make sure staff would not withdraw the cash. According to local media, when police ambushed Hung at the airport, he said he was simply taking his girlfriend abroad to see a motor show in Japan. After questioning, Hung admitted he had committed the theft and said he had two other accomplices. Hung said he had pocketed half of the stolen money, and the rest was divided between the other two suspects. The suspect said he only knew one of them well, and he was not clear how they had decided to share the money.