State police investigate as thieves hit ATMs

EL DORADO – The El Dorado Police Department is working with several other law enforcement agencies to investigate a series of ATM and vehicle thefts reported in several southern states and the central United States

Capt. Scott Harwell of the police department’s Criminal Investigative Division said local, state and federal authorities in Arkansas believe the thefts are linked to an out-of-state ring.

Thieves have struck multiple times in the Golden Triangle — El Dorado, Camden, and Magnolia — over the past year.

Harwell said city police departments share information as part of local investigations and a larger investigation being conducted by the Arkansas State Police Department.

Similar reports have come in from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma in recent years, Harwell said.

In 2020, four Dallas men were indicted in a federal indictment alleging the suspects drove to Arkansas and Oklahoma to break into ATMs at Walmart stores in cities like Conway and Benton.

There have been multiple burglaries, attempted burglaries and related vehicle thefts at ATMs in El Dorado in recent months.

Two Texas men have been arrested and a third Mississippi suspect has been issued an arrest warrant in connection with the theft of two vans and a commercial burglary that caused extensive damage at a convenience store earlier this year.

Deaundre M. Elam, 30, and Jeremiah Reece, 23, both of Houston, and Javon Q. Hoye, 20, of Madison, Miss., are accused of stealing a pickup truck from South Arkansas Community College and driving it into the Murphy USA facility rammed a store at 2720 N. West Ave. to steal the ATM from the store.

Police were responding to a report of a van “repeatedly driving into the building.” Upon arrival, they found the store’s north entrance “smashed in,” an ATM was on the floor, and several store shelves and merchandise were strewn near the door.

The incident was captured on surveillance video of the store.

A short time later, officers recovered the van parked behind the Walmart Supercenter at 2730 N. West Ave. had been left behind.

A second white pickup truck was found abandoned in the middle of the street in the area of ​​Hathaway Drive and North West Avenue.

Police said the engine was running and the ignition had also been knocked out. They learned that the van had been stolen by the M&A Wrecker Service.

Thieves have also targeted ATMs at Southern Bancorp, 1615 W. Hillsboro St., and the River Valley Community Federal Credit Union, 2416 N. West Ave.