Cash Frenzy: New data shows ATM thefts were worse than first reported during Chicago rioting

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As a wide array of stores were looted, police cars torched and violence stretched police thin on two separate weekends this spring and summer, new data obtained Tuesday by the ABC I-Team reveals there was one popular and repeated target: ATMs.

More than 100 ATMs were stolen or damaged during the two major riot periods of May 30 to June 2 and between Aug. 9 and 11, according to Chicago Police Department figures provided to the I-Team in response to a Freedom of Information Act filing.

The most spectacular ATM theft occurred in downtown Chicago early on Monday, Aug. 10 when police say a man videoed himself hammering an ATM into smithereens and beamed the act live onto social media.

Authorities later arrested Aaron Neal, 20, of Englewood, who is now charged with breaking into the cash machine.

The majority of ATM thefts and vandalism occurred during an initial weekend of mayhem at the tail of protests which were in response to the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black resident of Minneapolis.

91 of the ATM attacks took place on that late spring weekend according to CPD's Data Fulfillment and Analysis Section.

Twelve ATM attacks occurred during the August melees. As the I-Team has reported after both periods of street violence and looting, investigators suspected that many of the most lucrative break-ins were well-coordinated efforts by professional burglary teams, or snatch and grab gangs that had targets identified and getaway routes mapped out.

Many of the looting attacks were recorded on security cameras and surveillance devices.

Chicago police officials have released pictures and videos of the suspects who appear in the act of climbing through broken-down doors and shattered windows, and then carrying out merchandise - in some cases to waiting vehicles.

The I-Team reported in mid-August that FBI officials were vexed by "significant activity" all summer with ATM robberies and bank heists.

By that time in Chicago, we learned, just Bank of America alone had been hit by ATM looters more than three dozen times. 37 ATMs were damaged in the past few months according to a Bank of America spokesperson, 35 damaged in May and June.
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