Police seek person of interest in nine ATM fires, burglaries

atm burglaries
Dennis Woods, 38, is being sought as a person of interest in the ATM burglary spree.
Credit: Philadelphia Police Department

Philadelphia police on Tuesday released the identity of a person of interest in a rash of ATM fires, burglaries and attempted burglaries that occurred around the city this summer.

Officials with the Southwest Detectives Division also aired video surveillance footage of the suspects using a dark-colored SUV-type vehicle while committing two of the crimes – the July 24 burglary of a Rite Aid in in Eastwick and the Aug. 10 attempted burglary of a Wells Fargo in South Philadelphia.

The ATM burglaries and attempted burglaries – nine in total – started June 22 and continued in various locations around the city, though police said the crimes showed similar methods of entry.

The suspect in several of the incidents used an acetylene torch to access the machines.

Police said in some of the cases, the suspect also severed phone and electrical lines before returning to the scene to complete the crime.

Several of the burglaries were located in close proximity to I-95, ostensibly to provide the suspect with an easy method of escape.

Investigators said police first responded June 22 to a fire alarm at Hyperion Bank, 1001 N. Second St. at the Piazza at Schmidt’s in Northern Liberties.

Arriving officers shortly after 5 p.m. saw an open door leading to the basement stairwell and observed a large burn mark to the back of an ATM.

A total of $47,000 in cash was taken.

The next incident occurred shortly before 5 p.m. July 24 at the Rite Aid at 7615 Lindbergh Blvd.

Officers responded to the scene and found a side door of the store unlocked and the business – in particular, the pharmacy area – in total disarray.

Someone had severed the outlet’s electrical lines and destroyed its security cameras.

The store’s ATM was broken into and an unknown amount of cash was missing.

Police later recovered a GPS tracker from the business at Penrose Ferry Road and Bartram Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia.

The next incident happened just four days later at PNC Bank, 4356 Frankford Ave. in Frankford.

Officers responded around 7:30 p.m. and found someone had smashed through a neighboring brick wall and into the bank, broken into the ATM and taken $60,930 in cash.

The suspects next on Aug. 5 allegedly hit a Kmart at 8800 Frankford Ave. in Pennypack Woods.

A manager opening the store around midnight noticed a side door had been forced open, security cameras and wires were damaged and the ATM inside the store was burglarized.

Someone also broke into the store’s pharmacy, jewelry and electronics counters, and cash room, making away with items whose total cash value police estimate to be $50,000.

Officers next responded to a burglary alarm shortly after 4 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Verree Pharmacy at 7960 Verree Rd. in Fox Chase.

There, they found the front door had been forced open, wires were severed in the property’s rear and a PECO meter was removed.

The suspects made away with an unknown amount of narcotics and cash.

Security personnel at the Wells Fargo bank at 5918 Rising Sun Ave. told police early the next morning someone had unsuccessfully tried to gain entry to the drive-thru ATM, which had been damaged by a blowtorch.

That suspect was last seen wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a ski mask and a white motorcycle helmet with stars.

Police were the same day called to the Wells Fargo bank at 2904 Island Ave., where they received a report of two unknown men attempting to blowtorch the drive-thru ATM sometime between 1:15 a.m. and 1:20 a.m. One suspect was wearing a white motorcycle helmet, while the second was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.

A third attempt was made around 5 p.m. the next day, Aug. 11, when someone severed wiring in the rear of the PNC Bank at 1544 Packer Ave. and attempted to pry open the bank door.

The most recent incident happened around 4 a.m. Monday at a Wells Fargo bank located at 2710 S. Third St.

Investigators first observed a burgundy vehicle near the business around 7 p.m.

Police said the suspects later returned in a black SUV, severed all power lines to the bank and its PECO meter and broke through the rear door. They then allegedly used a blowtorch to gain entry to the rear of an ATM and tried to use a pry bar to break into the vault, but were again unsuccessful.

Police on Monday identified Dennis Woods, 38, as one person of interest in the burglary spree.

Woods, whose last known address is on the 2400 block of South American Street in Whitman, is also wanted for his alleged involvement in the May 5 burglary of the Delaire pharmacy at 9400 State Rd. in which Woods and another man allegedly forced entry to the rear and front doors of the pharmacy.

Anyone with information on Woods or any of the suspects or crimes is asked to call 911, to contact the Southwest Detectives Division at 215-686-3183 or 3184, or to submit an anonymous tip by dialing 215-686-TIPS (8477), texting PPD TIP (773847), emailing tips@phillypolice.com or by filling out this online form.


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