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FBI: ATM firm heist spurring other crime

FBI: ATM firm heist spurring other crime

November 25th, 2010 by JIM SALTER, The Associated Press in News

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Nearly four months after brazen robbers stole millions of dollars in broad daylight at an ATM servicing business in St. Louis, federal authorities expressed confidence Wednesday the crime will be solved.

However, the huge amount of money taken in the heist is causing a spiral of other violent crime in the region.

FBI investigators are searching for four men who kidnapped two teenage girls at gunpoint Sunday from a St. Louis County home. FBI Special Agent Dennis Baker said the girls, ages 13 and 16, were targeted because they are related to people involved in the Aug. 2 robbery at ATM Solutions. He would not elaborate.

The girls were released Monday night unharmed. A ransom had been sought but was not paid.

Soon after that kidnapping, an intruder went into a St. Louis County apartment complex near where the girls were dropped off and detained three women before forcing them to drive him to St. Louis city. Investigators believe the intruder could have been one of the men who abducted the teenagers.

At a news conference at FBI headquarters, Baker said there are "promising leads" in the robbery investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Mehan was asked how confident he was the robbers would be captured.

"What's my confidence level? Pretty high," he said.

But the unsolved crime has led to problems because those in St. Louis' criminal community are aware of the large sum of money the men took, authorities said.

"We're dealing with crime spiraling out on the basis of this," Mehan said. "We're connecting the dots."

The FBI has never acknowledged how much money was taken in the ATM Solutions robbery, though local police have said it involved millions of dollars. It is believed to be one of the largest amounts of money ever stolen in St. Louis.

In the crime, four armed bandits clad from head to toe in black overpowered two ATM Solutions workers, bound them with duct tape, and locked them in a vault. The robbers then used an armored company van to haul away containers of money

FBI officials aren't saying if any of the money has been recovered.

No one has been charged directly with the robbery. John Wesley Jones, 36, of St. Louis, is considered a suspect, but has not been formally charged. Jones was one of two men who broke out of a Lincoln County, Mo., earlier this month. He was captured two days later.

Three others have been named on charges related to the ATM Solutions case, including James Wright, 32, of St. Louis, whose charge of interstate transportation of stolen money was announced by Baker on Wednesday. Two women were previously charged with similar crimes for allegedly helping to move some of the money to Atlanta.