ATM thieves strike HSB bank twice

Authorities are searching for suspects in at least two ATM machine thefts at First Capital Bank of Texas in Horseshoe Bay, the latest of which was Jan. 9, involving tens of thousands of dollars in cash taken by using stolen identity information cloned onto gift cards.





By Connie Swinney
Staff Writer

Authorities are searching for suspected ATM machine thieves, who stole 10s of thousands of dollars in cash using “cloned” gift cards in a two-night period at the same Horseshoe Bay bank, according to the police report.

“We found out that it happened two nights in a row,” Horseshoe Bay Police Chief Rocky Wardlow said. “We have a vehicle description. There's more than one of them.”

The case unfolded around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9., as an officer drove past the First Capital Bank of Texas, in the 6900 block of Ranch Road 2147.

“He saw a vehicle at the ATM there at bank. He went back to check it,” Wardlow said. “He didn't have probable cause to stop them but followed them.”

The officer reported the vehicle left the city and headed east on Texas 71.

“The officer went back to the ATM and found a whole bunch of gift cards,” Wardlow said. “At the bank, they probably thought he was about to pull them over, so they threw all these cards out.”

Investigators surmised that at least two men on two different occasions used gift cards at the bank's ATM machines to steal tens of thousands of dollars.

“Best we can tell at this point, they're using stolen identities,” he said. “These gift cards have been cloned into ATM debit cards with stolen account numbers and PIN numbers.”

Authorities are tallying a growing list of victims.

“I don't believe any of the victims are from here,” he said. “Our banks are not the victim.”

With identity cases typically banks will cover the theft through Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

“The banks are going to put back the money,” Wardlow said. “They'll probably file some sort of loss with FDIC.”

A First Capital Bank representative offered the following statement for those who discover they have been the victim of ATM thieves:

"[A]ffected cardholders should contact their banks where their compromised account(s) are held," said First Capital Bank of Texas Marketing Manager Hazel Morrison in a statement. "In the case of fraudulent card activity such as this one and to ensure victims are helped, they need to contact the bank that is tied to the debit card account that was compromised, not the bank that owns the ATM where the money was withdrawn."

Horseshoe Bay police released a description and photo of the surveillance images. Both vehicles are described as four-door, Chrysler 300s with Texas license plate numbers KTG 1599 and KTG 1594.

Investigators believe the officer's initial suspicion may have prevented even more loss at the local bank.

“It caught his attention probably because it was 10:30 at night on a Wednesday,” he said. “For us here in Horseshoe Bay, it's kind of unusual.”

Call the Horseshoe Bay Police Department with tips at 830-598-2633.


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