The Clewiston News

Two Clewiston men accused of using backhoe to steal ATM in Winter Haven

Jesus Antonio Sanchez (left) and Francisco Hernandez (right)

Two Clewiston men were arrested in Polk County on Friday, July 10 after allegedly stealing a backhoe and using it to take an ATM from a bank in Winter Haven.

Neighbors Francisco Hernandez, 54, and Jesus Antonio Sanchez Sanchez, 50, were arrested Saturday morning when a Polk County Sheriff’s deputy spotted them in a Ford F-250 traveling down U.S. 27 with the ATM in the back of the truck, the Winter Haven Police Department reported.

The two men are accused of stealing a backhoe from a construction site near the Center State Bank on Lucerne Avenue in Winter Haven, which they then used to tear down the building that housed the ATM.

The alarm sounded at around 11:44 p.m. on Friday at the bank. When officers arrived, they reportedly found the ATM building completely demolished with no ATM inside.

Officers issued a BOLO (be on the lookout) and a short time later a Polk County deputy reportedly saw a Hernandez and Sanchez traveling south on U.S. 27 heading back towards Clewiston.

The deputy stopped the Ford F-250 and reportedly found the ATM in the bed of the truck. Hernandez and Sanchez allegedly told the deputy they had been gathering scrap metal but couldn’t remember where they got everything.

Back at the bank, officers reportedly found that the backhoe was taken from a nearby construction site, driven through a field and used to destroy the building housing the ATM. Hernandez and Sanchez were able to load the ATM into the back of their truck, but a bank representative reported that the ATM had not yet been opened.

Hernandez and Sanchez were arrested and charged with grand theft-use of motor vehicle-property damage, a first-degree felony.

Hernandez also had a warrant out for his arrest from Hendry County for violation of probation, and Sanchez was currently on probation for grand theft over $20,000.

Hernandez is currently being held at the Polk County Jail on a $40,000 bond; Sanchez is also being held at the Polk County Jail on a $25,000 bond.