December 21, 2014

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Police seek men who stole $800 from car wash bill changer

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Police are hunting for two clever suspects they say stole approximately $800 in quarters from a car wash bill-changing machine by a method known as “stringing.”

“These guys are very efficient at manipulating a bill changer with great ease, which leads me to believe they’ve done this before,” North Ridgeville Police Detective Pat West said Tuesday.

Police hope to identify and locate both men by releasing video surveillance footage that clearly shows both suspects as well as the car they were driving.

The theft occurred about 10:30 p.m. June 11 at the Wash Wizards car wash at 35630 Center Ridge Road.

West said they fed a bill into the machine and withdrew it before it got swallowed by the machine — meaning the quarters dropped but they kept the bill.

“They keep repeating this step, and the machine keeps spitting out quarters,” West said. “This is a common ruse.”
“It only took them 10 minutes,” West said of the thieves. “These guys work well together.”

West said he presumes it was a larger bill that was used as a $1 bill would have had to have been fed into the machine 800 times, which didn’t fit with the time frames on the video.

“That would have taken quite a while,” West said.

Police figure the thieves managed three to four transactions with the bill-changer every minute.

While the pair got away undetected, police obtained what West termed “superb” images of both men from three security cameras that captured the theft from multiple angles, including one mounted directly above the bill-changing machine.

Video shows one man repeatedly feeding the bill into the machine and then withdrawing it. The suspect also appeared to use a slim, dark-colored device that West surmised was placed up to the machine or put inside it with the currency.

“My guess is that it was used to prevent the bill from being taken completely into the machine,” West said.

The man wore a pink or reddish-colored baseball cap, shorts and had distinctive tattoos on each leg, including a large dark tattoo on the back of his right calf that had a face surrounded by tentacle-like appendages.

“They were in a well-lit area and took no pains to disguise themselves with hats, hoods or sunglasses,” West said. “They either didn’t think anyone would notice them or they didn’t care.”

Video footage also showed the men were in a white late-model Chrysler 300 with a moon roof and an Ohio license plate.
Police believe a third person was driving the car and remained inside the vehicle during the theft.

Due to the sharpness of the video images, West feels sure “someone is bound to recognize these guys.”

While the suspects were clever, they weren’t that clever, according to West.

“If they were really smart, they wouldn’t be crooks in the first place,” he said.

Anyone with any information on the theft is asked to contact North Ridgeville police at (440) 327-2191.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.