ATM tech in burqa disguise caught with suitcase of cash
When Gildardo Lopez Jr., 31, was arrested early Thursday coming out of the Chase branch in LaGrange, Ill., he was wearing a black burqa and had a walkie-talkie connected to ear buds.
An ATM technician disguised himself in a burqa as part of a plan to steal more than $160,000 from a Chase Bank cash machine in a Chicago suburb, federal prosecutors allege.
When Gildardo Lopez Jr., 31, was arrested early Thursday coming out of the Chase branch in LaGrange, he was wearing a black burqa and had a walkie-talkie connected to ear buds, according to a criminal complaint.
He was also wearing latex gloves and carrying a suitcase stuffed with $168,174 in cash. “There’s a lot of money in there,” the complaint quoted Lopez as telling FBI agents who took him into custody.
Authorities also arrested alleged getaway driver Douglas Pineda, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport screener who was sitting in a Toyota Sienna minivan parked a block from the bank.
Officers found a walkie-talkie with ear buds attached on the front seat, the charges alleged. When asked what he was doing there, Pineda, 31, said he was waiting for his friend “Gil” and then pointed him out as the person authorities had just arrested, according to the charges.
The two were charged with one count of bank robbery. In court Friday, the roommates from Chicago’s Southwest Side looked sheepish as prosecutors sought to have them held in custody pending trial, arguing they posed a danger to the community. Noting neither had a previous criminal record, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier allowed them to be confined at home and released them to the custody of their respective fathers.
According to the charges, Lopez worked as an ATM technician for Garda Cash Logistics and had told another employee he thought his job might be in jeopardy. On Tuesday, he asked for the employee’s help in stealing ATM money by providing an electronic key that would shut off the alarm system, the charges alleged.
To gain access to the cash, Lopez also needed to call Garda personnel for a one-time access code, according to the charges. He said he planned to dress like “an Arab woman” to disguise his appearance because he knew the ATM had a surveillance camera, the complaint alleged.
At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, he went to pick up the alarm key at the co-worker’s residence. Lopez told the employee — who was wearing a hidden recorder for the FBI — that he had a getaway driver and that a friend who worked for the TSA was going to help him escape to the Dominican Republic.