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Thieves steal ATM in smash-and-grab burglary at south Seattle gas station

ATM thefts have been on the rise throughout the region since the beginning of the year.

SEATTLE — A Seattle store owner is having to pick up the pieces after thieves smashed through the front of his business and stole an ATM and a cash box.

The incident happened around 3 a.m. at the corner of Rainier Avenue and Graham Street in south Seattle, according to the owner.

The thieves apparently ripped the gas station food mart’s door off and took the ATM and cash register’s cash box.

There has been no word on any suspect description as of 7 a.m. Thursday.

This burglary is just the latest in a string of ATM thefts across the region.

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Details on what the thieves used to remove the ATM from the store have not been released, but recent ATM thefts have involved pick-up trucks and even a forklift.

About half a mile from Thursday's crime scene, Lucky One store owner Mesfin Ghebreab said his business has been a target three times in the last seven months. Thieves have tried to smash their way in. On Saturday, surveillance cameras captured a successful attempt. 

A man brought a ladder around 2 a.m. and used an object to smash the window enough for him to get inside the building, video footage shows. He stole cartons of cigarettes, and did more than $3,000 worth of damage to the store. 

The business has bars on the windows and cameras are constantly rolling. 

“Still they do it,” said Ghebreab. "There is nothing I can do." 

The Seattle Police Department’s south precinct responds to calls in the neighborhood. Police data shows the number of burglaries and thefts in that area increased by more than 600 reports from 2020 to 2021. The monthly trend so far this year shows the number of reports have been higher compared to the last couple of years. 

For Ghebreab, it comes down to the cost. He said his insurance rates for the year are up. 

"Now I am paying almost $8,000-plus because they think this area is a danger area,” he said. 

He's been on this block for more than 20 years. 

"I love it, but now I feel it is not safe,” he said. "I don't know what is going to happen tonight."

Police across the Puget Sound region say ATM thefts have been a growing issue. In mid-March, the King County Sheriff’s Office said it was investigating at least seven ATM thefts since the beginning of the year.

The Seattle detectives believe there is one group of suspects responsible for more than a dozen ATM thefts throughout the area.

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