Troopers arrest alleged ATM thieves in Mat-Su, recover money

zhollander@adn.comJanuary 2, 2014 

WASILLA -- A new Alaska State Troopers property crimes unit on its first official day at work busted a pair of men stealing an ATM from a business on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway.

An alarm on New Year's Day alerted patrol troopers to the theft of the cash-laden machine from an undisclosed business on the busy road between Palmer and Wasilla, according to an online troopers dispatch posted late Wednesday. Members of the new Criminal Suppression Unit, based out of Palmer, subsequently arrested 22-year-old Luc Mackie and 22-year-old Almonda Abarca, both of Palmer.

The pair broke a window to get into the business, troopers said. The ATM and all the money inside were recovered.

Both men were taken to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility and held on $5,000 bail on charges including second-degree burglary, second-degree theft, third-degree criminal mischief. Mackie was also held on an unrelated felony arrest warrant stemming from charges of leaving the scene of an accident.

It wasn't immediately known whether the men were involved in the Dec. 21 theft of a 200-pound cash machine reportedly containing $4,700 from RW's Hamburger House, which is also on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway.

The new unit -- a sergeant and three troopers -- started work Wednesday. The troopers began discussing the new unit following a large number of property crimes in the Valley, officials have said. Community members frustrated by the amount of theft in the Mat-Su also started a hugely popular Facebook page called "Stop Valley Thieves" and asked for more overview of property crime cases from the troopers.

The creation of the new unit was announced at a Dec. 13 community meeting at the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Reach Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com or 257-4317.

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