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Santa Fe police seek serial vending machine thief caught on video

A camera placed inside a soda vending machine caught a man breaking into the machine. The camera was installed after a series of thefts from vending machines.
A camera placed inside a soda vending machine caught a man breaking into the machine. The camera was installed after a series of thefts from vending machines.
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TO SEE VIDEO OF BURGLAR BREAKING INTO A SODA MACHINE, GO TO http://abqjournal.magnify.net/video/Santa-Fe-Soda-Machine-Burglar

Santa Fe Police are asking for help in identifying a man who has been pillaging soda machines.

The man, whose image was captured on a video camera concealed inside one of the vending machines, allegedly has been stealing from the machines using a hand-held tool since December, Sgt. Andrea Dobyns said. Police believe he could be responsible for as many as 16 break-ins and the Wednesday theft of an entire machine, according to Dobyns. All the machines belong to Coca Cola Bottling of Santa Fe.

The sergeant said the department hasn’t had a vending machine case in a while. She said pry marks on the machines appear to be similar, suggesting the thefts are the work of the same person.

“He has not stopped doing these burglaries,” she said.

Dobyns would not release how much money has been taken in the thefts, and she did not know how much cash a machine could hold, but she did say that each break-in causes about $600 damage to the machine.

Thefts were reported at Walmart on Cerrillos Road, the Hotel Santa Fe, Salvador Perez Pool, the Best Western Motel, the Radisson Hotel, the Ventana de Vida Senior Apartments and Los Pueblos Apartments.

Police spokeswoman Celina Westervelt said the machine that was reportedly stolen on St. Michael’s Drive on Wednesday was worth about $2,500. Two people may have worked together on that heist, she said.

The investigation has focused on finding the man captured on camera during the plundering of a machine at Walmart on Feb. 10. Police got a picture of the thief’s vehicle, a red Ford Focus with a spare tire on the driver’s side, but they were unable to get a picture of the license plate.

People with information about the thefts are asked to call city dispatch at 505-428-3710.

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