Suspected two-time ATM thief arrested, Palo Alto police say

A man suspected of stealing a couple of 1,500-pound ATMs containing more than $100,000 is in custody, Palo Alto police said Thursday.

Authorities on Tuesday arrested Juan Cortinas, 32, in San Jose on suspicion of burglarizing two Stanford Federal Credit Union ATMs and attempting to abscond with another machine that replaced one that had been stolen, Palo Alto police Detective Brian Philip said.

The first of the free-standing ATMs was stolen in November, Philip said. The heavy machines, taken from credit union locations on Page Mill and Embarcadero roads, were likely cut free from bolts securing them to the floor and loaded into trucks with a dolly, he added.

One of the gutted ATMs was discovered on a loading dock in Milpitas and the other in a stolen delivery truck left behind a vacant building in San Jose, Philip said. Cortinas is suspected of looting more than $100,000 from the machines.  Police believe he tried to steal a third automated teller machine on March 8.  It is unclear whether anyone else was involved in the thefts, Philip said.

“We’re doing some research to see whether anyone else was involved. The case will continue to see whether we can identify any other players,” he said.

There have been no further thefts of ATMs in Palo Alto since Cortinas’ arrest, Philip said. The detective noted an estimated 100 cases of ATM theft have been reported in the Bay Area in the past six months, though none involved the type of heavy ATM stolen in Palo Alto.

Cortinas’ arrest came 14 days after he allegedly fled from police, who took his girlfriend, 29-year-old Nicole McCabe, into custody May 4 on suspicion of mail theft, Philip said. Cortinas also allegedly pilfered mail.  “They were stealing mail from apartment complexes and trying to cash checks they found in that stolen mail,” Philip said.

Both Cortinas and McCabe were on parole at the time of their arrests, Philip said.  Cortinas had not been arraigned as of Thursday afternoon, Philip said, but he expects the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office to file multiple charges of burglary, possession of stolen property, auto theft, forgery and evading a police officer against the suspect.

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