West Shore RCMP are warning merchants to be on the lookout for blue-dyed money stolen from an ATM machine earlier this month.
On Monday night RCMP received a call from a Victoria General Hospital security officer after a man spent an inordinate amount of time feeding bills into a change machine.
“A security guy saw another guy trying to make change and filling his pockets,” said RCMP Staff Sgt. Danny Willis. “He called us and said it was strange. We agreed that it was strange.”
RCMP got the change company to crack open its machine, and police found $840 worth of $20 bills splattered with blue dye. A short time later a service station in Langford notified police that a man tried to buy gift cards with stained money, but ran off when confronted.
RCMP officers fanned out to service stations and convenience stores open late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. One other service station in Langford had sold a man $820 in gift cards who used dyed $20 bills.
Similar $20 bills were also used at a convenience store in Saanich on July 24 and most recently in Duncan on July 26, police say.
Willis said investigators determined the cash was stolen from an ATM machine in Okanagan Falls on July 11, and was stained blue from an explosive security dye pack.
Police haven’t released how much cash was stolen, but Willis said there are still a “large quantity” of bills at large.
Police have video images of the suspect, but those aren’t being released. The male is described as being six feet tall, 170 pounds, in his 20s, wearing blue jeans, white shoes and a jersey type shirt with the number “09” on the front.
It’s not clear if the suspect is the ATM thief or someone who is just laundering the money. “We assume he is the thief or that he bought the cash at a discount and is basically laundering it in the form of purchases,” Willis said.
“People need to be on the lookout for a lot more of this, especially store clerks. It would be nice if they could call us right away.”
Anyone who has information on this crime, or witnesses someone trying to spend blue-dyed cash can call West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).