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Charges may be tied to St. Louis armored car heist

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 | 8:43 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — The FBI has "strong leads" in the investigation into a well-orchestrated robbery at an ATM servicing company, and authorities said Wednesday they hope a sizeable reward offered by the company generates even more information.

Meanwhile, the FBI announced a St. Louis man spotted in a car possibly connected to the crime was charged with a federal firearms crime, but had not been charged in direct connection with the heist.

ATM Solutions Inc. is offering up to $150,000 for arrests, convictions and recovery of money from the Monday robbery in midtown St. Louis, FBI special agent Dan Netemeyer said.

"We're hoping this reward will provide the break," Netemeyer said at a brief news conference outside FBI headquarters.

On Monday, four masked gunmen overpowered two workers at ATM Solutions, forced them into a vault, and duct-taped them inside. The men carted away containers of cash in one of the company's armored vans. Authorities haven't said how much, but Netemeyer said reports that the amount was $11 million were incorrect. He would not elaborate.

The armored van was ditched about two miles away roughly 90 minutes later, but no suspects were captured.

On Tuesday, police spotted a Dodge Charger they believed might have been involved in the crime. As officers began following the car, the driver — identified Wednesday as John Wesley Jones — crashed and was taken into custody.

The U.S. Attorney's office said a large amount of cash was in the trunk of the Charger, and a semiautomatic weapon was found. Jones, 36, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Netemeyer would not say if Jones was a suspect in the heist, saying only that it would be up to the U.S. Attorney's office to file charges. A U.S. Attorney's spokeswoman did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Jones was jailed and it wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

At about the same time police were capturing Jones on Tuesday, the FBI and St. Louis police surrounded a home just a few blocks from the robbery scene and confirmed the siege was related to the investigation. After nearly six hours at the home, about 20 FBI agents entered after officers fired tear gas through windows. But no one was inside.

Authorities said the four bandits waited for one of the business' employees to come to work, then rushed in behind him, disarmed and subdued him before waiting for a second employee to arrive, apparently knowing it took two workers to separately punch in access codes to open the vault.

All four robbers were armed, but there was no evidence they fired any shots.

Cincinnati-based ATM Solutions replenishes cash in ATMs and maintains the machines for banks and other customers in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

 


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