A group of conmen is said to have used a DJI Mini drone to steal $147,000 from an ATM in the French city of Reims, in a stunningly brazen theft that even the police admit is “completely unprecedented.”
Despite the fact that the incident occurred in broad daylight this summer, French media only recently brought it to light.
On May 22, an ATM outside a branch of the French cooperative banking group Caisse d’Epargne was robbed, according to a report in Le Journal De Dimanche. What was unusual about the crime was that there was no evidence of a break-in; neither the safe nor the premises’ entrance door showed signs of vandalism.
The police did notice that the room’s air vent appeared damaged, but that space was too small to accommodate a person.
A mini drone was immediately detected when the ATM’s CCTV footage was reviewed. The video showed an expertly piloted aircraft being used to activate a push button that opened the door to a technical room next door to the ATM.
As soon as the door opened, “several strangers entered this room and managed to open the cash box by dialing in a secret code that is typically known only to the couriers who are in charge of transporting the cash.”
The robbers quickly stole up to $147,000 before fleeing the scene. The robbery lasted less than ten minutes in total.
“To locate the push button, the perpetrators used a telescopic pole equipped with a mirror,” a source close to the investigation told Le Journal De Dimanche. “This is the first time that we have witnessed such use of a drone to rob a bank ATM.”
Further investigation revealed that one of the thieves previously worked as a mechanic for the company responsible for the ATM’s maintenance. It was also revealed that the cash machines’ secret codes were not changed frequently enough to prevent such an incident.
Nonetheless, the good news is that two men involved in the heist have been apprehended by police.
After the drone-assisted ATM theft was revealed on September 25, a public prosecutor in Reims held a press conference and provided details about the case.