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New surveillance pictures reveal two men suspected of blowing up ATMs

Thieves made off with cash haul after the latest blast.
Posted: 6:20 PM, Jan 13, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-14 08:57:07-05
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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- There are big developments in the series of ATM explosions across the Tampa Bay area.

Investigators have doubled the number of ATMs targeted as they piece the evidence together. Some machines were blown up and others tampered with.

Four banks have been targeted and one of them was hit three times.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has released new surveillance pictures of the men they believe to be behind the crimes.

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PHOTOS: Deputies release photos of possible suspects in Hillsborough County ATM explosions

“This individual is becoming extremely brazen," said Sheriff Chad Chronister in a morning press conference before releasing surveillance pictures showing not one but two suspects.

Surveillance stills show the men covered from head to toes. They're dressed in hoodies, face masks, gloves and carry backpacks. HCSO says they spray painted the security cameras and then headed straight to the cash machines.

“This is the first individual that I can recall that is trying to blow up the device to access the money," said Chronister, "First person in 29 years that I can remember.”

Over the past six months, these suspects are believed to have tampered with several cash machines. The locations include a Regions bank in Valrico, a BB&T in Oldsmar, and a Chase and Pilot banks in Westchase. The Regions bank in Valrico was targeted three times, says HCSO. This latest attempt on Sunday, January 12 proved successful.

The blast tore the machine apart and the money was stolen. It marks the first time, as far as HCSO is aware, that money was taken.

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“Bombers are very distinct in how their personality and behaviors are developed," said Bryanna Fox, an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of South Florida.

Fox knows crime. She's a former FBI Special Agent and used to profile criminals for the bureau. She calls this case "very rare." She says law enforcement doesn't typically come across criminals who use explosives, and especially not two of them.

Fox says these types of criminals tend to be narcissists and introverted. They may have been the underachievers of their class but may also be well-read. She says it takes a lot of skill to pull of explosives. It's possible these suspects have former military training.

HCSO says this is a possibility it is looking into. But Sheriff Chronister also added, "everyone's a suspect," meaning nothing's off the table.

Chronister worries this could end with someone getting hurt.

“I don’t know how sophisticated the device is. How experienced he is or the damage he could cause to someone else," said Chronister.

Fox doesn’t think the suspects will stop.

“In this case, it’s potentially about the money and the thrill. The thrill of using the bomb and knowing he’s in control," she said.

Fox is also confident these suspects enjoy watching coverage of their spree on the news.

"I think more than any of the other cases I've ever consulted on, I think in this case it's more than likely he's watching right now. These bombers love to see the media attention, they love to see themselves discussed on TV and love to know they are making an impact on the world even if it's a negative way," said Fox.

But Fox said it doesn't help to just keep the stories off the news.

"The benefit of news media coverage is the fact that a lot of these cases where there are bombers they are known to somebody. The only way those people will think to report it is by watching the news, seeing these traits, hearing the stories and then reporting some unusual behaviors that seem to align with the case and that's how they ultimately catch them," she said.

HCSO says the FBI, ATF, and PCSO are all working on this case together. The ATF has also identified the type of explosive used, said Chronister.