It had been getting so in the St. John’s area that every back-hoe, front-end loader, excavator or other piece of heavy equipment rumbling through the streets in the overnight hours was eyed with suspicion.
Four break-ins in a week — three at banks and one at a Sobeys store — with the use of heavy equipment.
The brazen crimes gained national attention.
ATMs were being targeted. Thousands of dollars of damage done to buildings and to the stolen pieces of heavy equipment.
Banks, grocery stores and any business with an ATM near an exterior wall — particularly banks with a drive-thru ATM — were on alert.
Security companies had extra work on their hands.
People commented that whoever was carrying out these crimes knew how to operate heavy equipment, and had staked out their targets.
Two men were arrested Saturday morning just after the latest of the bank break-ins.
The accused — Cory Quilty, 41 and Jamie Kennedy, 40 — both of Paradise — appeared in provincial court in St. John’s Saturday afternoon on a number of charges related to the break-in — with the use of heavy equipment — at the Bank of Montreal (BMO) on Newfoundland Drive in St. John’s earlier in the morning.
The RNC issued a news release stating that about 4:30 a.m. Saturday officers responded to an alarm at the bank. They arrived to find the exterior wall at the banking drive-thru ripped open.
Soon after the RNC initiated a traffic stop on the Trans-Canada Highway, subsequently arresting Quilty and Kennedy.
The two accused looked disheveled and tired when they made a brief appearance in provincial court in St. John’s Saturday afternoon. They were remanded in custody and were expected back in court this morning for bail hearings.
Both are facing charges including break and enter, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of property obtained by crime, public mischief, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, unauthorized possession of a firearm, and other firearms offences.
On Saturday morning workers from Thomas Glass arrived to seal the opening in the exterior wall at the drive-thru of the BMO branch. Falling snow had covered the pile of debris of twisted and broken wood and metal.
Quilty and Kennedy are charged only in relation to the BMO incident on Newfoundland Drive.
The Bank of Nova Scotia in Manuels, Conception Bay South, was hit early Friday morning. Thieves in that case used an excavator which had been parked at a construction site next to the bank. They tore into the building to remove the ATM but hydraulic lines on the excavator broke spilling fluid and rendered the excavator inoperable.
On Jan. 14, employees at Sobeys on Kelsey Drive were greeted with a large hole in the side of their building and a missing ATM.
The day before, an ATM was stolen from the TD Bank on Elizabeth Avenue in St. John’s with the help of heavy equipment.
This is not the first time that heavy equipment has been used in such crimes in the St. John’s area.
About the same time last year, two incidents involving stolen heavy equipment took place: one at the Dominion store on Blackmarsh Road and another at the Lawtons drug store on Topsail Road in Paradise. Exterior walls were smashed and ATMs pulled away.
Back in 2007, a backhoe was used at the Irving station on the Trans-Canada Highway just outside of St. John’s to rip into the side of the building and remove the ATM. That incident caused a lot of damage to the building and equipment inside the business.
Two men were arrested and charged in that case and received jail time.
Men accused of bank break-in with heavy equipment appear in court