Brazen thief steals ATM from Tacoma veterans hall

Brazen thief steals ATM from Tacoma veterans hall »Play Video

TACOMA, Wash. -- A brazen thief walked into a busy American Veterans post earlier this month and wheeled out an ATM, and the whole thing was caught on surveillance video.

Many local veterans depend on the services the post has to offer, and they can't believe someone would target them for an ATM heist.

The surveillance video shows the suspect walking into the AMVETS Post 1 building in Tacoma in broad daylight January 9.  He makes his way into the bar area, which is empty even though 100 people are downstairs playing bingo.

He grabs a hand-truck, unplugs the ATM and calmly wheels out to a waiting car.  However, he has difficulty fitting it in.  

"I don't know why he thought a five-foot tall machine would fit in the front of this small four-door car,' said AMVETS Commander Chuck Wharton.

Employee Tia Brown saw the man in the parking and wondered what was going on.

"And then when I realized we were being ripped off is when I went after him," she said.

At that point the thief and perhaps an accomplice sped out of the parking lot with the ATM still sticking out of the car.

"And to consider what we do," said Brown. "To steal from a place like this, you've got to be really low, you've got to hit rock bottom to steal from a veteran."

Police later found the car abandoned. The ATM was found thrown in a recycling bin with the $1,860 gone. They tracked the car to Scott Allan Thornton and arrested him earlier this week.

According to court papers, Thornton denied the crime to police saying, 'Prove it."  The AMVET folks say the proof is in the video. Their cameras captured every moment of the heist from the time the suspect arrived empty handed to when he left toting an ATM.

It's Thorton's fourth arrest in four years for theft.

"If he is this brazen in the middle of the day, what's next for him?" Wharton said.