Wave of vending machine thefts hits Brantley

Published 5:41 pm Thursday, April 29, 2010

A string of recent vending machine thefts in Brantley has caught the attention of local law enforcement.

Over the past several weeks, thieves have been using a key, which is available on the internet, to open Pepsi drink machines and remove the money, said Brantley police chief Titus Averett.

The first report of this happening came about three weeks ago from the Dixieland Grocery Store.

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“Mr. Sasser mentioned that one of his machines didn’t have money in it that should have been there,” Averett said.

Although Sasser put a metal bar and lock on the machine, that proved to not be an obstacle.

“They just busted the lock and then got into the machine,” Averett said.

The next incident came from Brantley High School, where a machine was also found emptied.

A security camera revealed a suspect talking on a cell phone for several minutes before another suspect appeared.

“Then they just opened the machines up,” Averett said.

Because of the dim light on the security camera footage, officials were only able to determine that one was a white male and one was a black male.

No vehicles appear in the video.

Similar cases have also been reported in Elba, Opp and Andalusia, and Averett said the case presents a challenge to law enforcement.

“It’s hard to say if it’s local, but they had some knowledge of the school to know where the machines were,” he said. “They’re also going to be hard to catch because you’d have to catch them in the act.”

Citizens can report suspicious activity by calling 911 or the Brantley Police Department at 527-3244 or 527-3245.