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In a high-tech world of surveillance cameras and license-plate readers, criminals have even less chance to make a getaway when they leave their identification card at the scene. In this case, a suspect left his ID in a stolen truck allegedly used to steal cash from an ATM in Ozark on Oct. 30.
According to federal court documents submitted by the FBI, surveillance video footage shows a Ford F-250 being stolen in the early morning of Oct. 30 from Tom’s Diesel, a business at 1556 N. Commercial Road in Nixa.
The truck was then used at 1:26 a.m. to dismantle an ATM at the Southern Bank branch at 2471 W. Jackson St. in Ozark. About $30,000 was taken from the machine.
Two large J-shaped hooks and a heavy-duty chain (attached to the stolen truck) were allegedly used to dismantle the machine.
The October theft in Ozark was one of three similar ATM thefts in southwest Missouri since Sept. 28, according to court documents.
The stolen truck was abandoned a few hundred yards from the bank — a practice agents describe to be similar to the other two ATM thefts.
FBI Special Agent Cameron M. Heath Jr. was the lead investigator, along with Ozark Police Department Sgt. Tommy Wade.
Agents obtained a search warrant for the abandoned truck.
Ozark police, according to court documents, found a Texas identification card, with photo, “on the driver’s seat, near the driver’s seat belt buckle.”
The ID belongs to Nigel Dewayne Luchin, 26, of Houston, Texas, who has a criminal history that involves a string of thefts from businesses in Texas.
Federal prosecutors filed a complaint against Luchin Nov. 6.
Court records do not indicate if Luchin has been arrested. He is not listed as an inmate in either the Christian County Jail, the Greene County Jail or in the Harrison County Jail in Houston, Texas.
Surveillance cameras here, there everywhere
Records in this case show just how difficult it can be to get away with a crime, especially one being investigated by the FBI — even if the suspect hadn’t allegedly left his ID on the driver’s seat of a stolen truck.
First, court records show investigators looked at video from the bank.
They also reviewed surveillance video from businesses next to Tom’s Diesel. That video captured two other vehicles parked next to each other at about 12:30 a.m. Oct. 30, on North Commercial Road near Tom’s Diesel.
One was a newer, gray minivan and one was a gray mid-sized sport utility vehicle, according to court records.
Footage allegedly shows someone driving the stolen Ford pickup briefly stopped where the parked vehicles were. All three vehicles left together.
The power of license-plate readers
Investigators also checked license-plate-readers in the Nixa/Ozark area. This is a relatively new tool for law enforcement.
The license-plate reader or readers picked up the two other vehicles as they moved toward the bank. One had a Missouri tag and the other had a Florida tag.
Both vehicles recently had been rented in Houston, Texas. With that information in hand, investigators discovered both rental vehicles had been recognized by a license-plate-reader in Houston, Texas, at 11:53 a.m, earlier on Oct. 30.
It is roughly a 10-hour drive from the center of Houston, Texas, to the Southern Bank branch in Ozark.
In addition to security footage and license-plate-readers, investigators found a black bucket with a red lid that had a Harbor Freight Tools logo on it near the abandoned stolen truck.
The bucket had a sticker that stated “Heavy Duty Transport Chain” and a picture of a gold tow chain that looked like the one used to dismantle the ATM, which was still on the abandoned truck.
The bucket had a store locator number on it for Harbor Freight Tools Store at 3909 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield.
Using that information, investigators were able to watch a video of the purchase of the chain on Oct. 29. A man who investigators believe looks like Luchin paid cash.
Video footage shows this man leaving the store and entering a gray minivan similar to the one in the surveillance video taken from where the pickup was stolen.