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Thief swipes from soda machines

This still frame from a video taken from inside a vending machine at Santa Fe’s Super Walmart shows a man taking money from it. Santa Fe police say that person is a suspect in as many as 16 vending machine thefts in the city. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
This still frame from a video taken from inside a vending machine at Santa Fe’s Super Walmart shows a man taking money from it. Santa Fe police say that person is a suspect in as many as 16 vending machine thefts in the city. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
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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, has allegedly been stealing from the machines using a handheld tool since December, Sgt. Andrea Dobyns said. Police believe he could be responsible for as many as 16 of the break-ins, plus a theft of an entire machine on Wednesday, according to Dobyns. All of the machines so far 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 typically does about $600 in damages to the machine.

Thefts were reported at the Super 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.

So far 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 suspect’s vehicle, a red Ford Focus with a donut (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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