ATM bandit ordered to repay his victims | VailDaily.com
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ATM bandit ordered to repay his victims

EAGLE COUNTY — An Eagle County man already in prison for robbing 25 ATM machines now has to pay back the money he stole.

ATM bandit Eric Callaghan was ordered to repay $84,527.85 in restitution to Dan Sunday and Alpine Vending. He’ll also pay $529 in restitution to the town of Avon, said a ruling by District Court Judge Fred Gannett.

Callaghan used skills he learned as a Marine in Iraq to break into 47 ATM machines — 22 in Mesa County and 25 in Eagle and Summit counties — during a two-year crime spree, prosecutors said.

Callaghan was a Marine combat veteran with an honorable discharge. He had no criminal history.

He told the court he fell into depression when his best friend from Iraq committed suicide and his mother in Nebraska was stricken with a disease that caused her to have up to 15 seizures a day.

Callaghan had called his crimes victimless, hurting no one but the insurance companies, Sunday said

Sunday owns Alpine Vending, and he said his employees took a pay cut and it cost his company $200,000.

How he got caught

Callaghan made a mistake during an Avon burglary, and that’s what got him.

Callaghan used two grinders to break into an Avon ATM, then threw them in the trash behind the building.

Avon Police Officer Yvonne Ramirez, as part of her crime scene investigation, looked in a dumpster at the rear of the business and spotted the grinders.

Police traced them back to Avon’s Wal-Mart.

Holmstrom worked with Wal-Mart’s manager and asset protection manager, and they figured out that Callaghan paid cash for the grinders at about 3 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2011 — minutes before his last burglary.

Callaghan showed up at Wal-Mart in a taxi, purchased the grinders with cash, left the store and got in the same taxi. He was wearing a hoodie, a beanie cap pulled down low over his eyes and a bright green jacket.

The taxi company gave them the phone number Callaghan used, but it was a burner phone. You buy them, load them with some calling minutes, use it, then throw it away, police said.

The police got a search warrant for the phone, and that got them the phone’s history, what phone numbers had been called and where it was.

They learned that the phone was in Nebraska, as was Callaghan.

On Thanksgiving night 2011, Avon Assistant Police Chief Greg Daly rang the police chief in that small Nebraska town. The chief was the only officer on duty, so he went to the location and ran the license plates on the car.

When they learned who lived there, they went to Facebook. That enabled them to link the phone to Callaghan.

When Callaghan returned to Colorado, they put him under surveillance.

Police said Callaghan started acting suspiciously, doing either counter surveillance maneuvers, selecting another target or trying to get out of town.

They decided it was time to move.

When they contacted Callaghan at a local hotel, he had a carry-on-sized bag with him. They took him to the Avon Police Department for a chat.

They applied for a warrant to search the bag and while two of them were conducting the interview, the third searched that bag.

In that bag they found an ATM drawer from one of his first burglaries. He kept it as both a souvenir and as a practice tool, police said.

What he got

Callaghan pleaded guilty to all seven felony charges he faced in Eagle and Summit counties. Gannett sentenced him to seven years in prison and the restitution. He could have been ordered to pay up to $200,000 in restitution and up to 12 years on each count.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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