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Wave of Laundromat break-ins throughout Southern California

November 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
There has been a wave of change machine break-ins at Laundromats around Southern California. Investigators managed to photograph the suspects in action.

Detectives said the suspects have been on an all-out crime spree for two years, striking in the exact same fashion over 50 times.

Surveillance video was released from one of the crimes that happened in Riverside a few months ago around 6:30 a.m. Armed with a flashlight and some kind of crowbar, the guy tried to break into the money machine, doing whatever he could to pry the door open.

So far, it's been a pretty lucrative scheme for the crooks. Police say they think the same two men have busted into dozens of machines all across Southern California, mostly in the Inland Empire.

Authorities said the areas that have been hit include Upland, Colton, Hemet, and San Bernardino.

Kathleen Coleman works for Multifamily Laundry Systems, the company that operates the machines.

Tenants use the system by inserting money into the machine. In exchange they get to swipe a card that they can then use to operate the washer and dryer.

"That way if they put $10 or $20 on it, they don't have to consistently go to the bank or the 7-Eleven to get quarters," said Coleman.

But while it makes life easier for those wanting to do their wash, they're also an easy target for the two crooks.

Police say they've gotten away with more than $40,000 in cash, and have cost the company more than $50,000 in repairs.

"These guys have been a big headache," said Coleman.

But what the crooks don't know is that the company has installed small hidden cameras in many of the machines, and they've been able to get some pretty good photos.

"So far we are looking at two suspects involved in these crimes, maybe more," said Det. Lavall Nelson from Riverside Police Department.

Nelson said they've struck 11 times in Riverside alone.

"We're seeking the public's assistance in identifying these suspects, and we're asking anyone who has information to come forward and give information to the Riverside Police Department," said Nelson.

The company operating the machines is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

If you recognize the people on the surveillance or have any information, call Riverside Police at 951-826-5388.

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