Police arrested two Clewiston men they say used a backhoe to steal a Winter Haven bank ATM.
Francisco Hernandez, 54, and Jesus Antonio Sanchez, 50, stole a backhoe from a construction site Friday night and used it to tear down the structure housing the ATM, police said.
They succeeded in retrieving the ATM, but were caught a short time later while trying to return to Clewiston.
Around 11:45 p.m, officers responded to an alarm at the CenterState Bank at 7722 Lucerne Park Rd. and found the building that houses the ATM demolished and the ATM gone. They issued a look-out bulletin for a large vehicle with an ATM in the bed, and soon after, a Polk County sheriff's deputy spotted a suspicious Ford F-250 pickup truck.
The deputy pulled over the truck and and saw an ATM in the bed. Hernandez and Sanchez said they had been out getting scrap metal, but couldn't remember where they had gotten the items in the truck bed, police said.
Officers back at the bank determined the backhoe had been taken from a construction site on the corner of U.S. 27 and Lucerne Park Road and driven through a field to the bank. Sanchez and Hernandez were then able to load the ATM into the bed of the truck and drive off, police said.
"It's a shame. I've never seen anything like that to take a dang bulldozer the stuff you see in on TV like in cartoons to demolish a building," said Catherine Ingram, a banker at Center State Bank.
Both men were charged with grand theft. Hernandez also had an outstanding Hendry County arrest warrant for violation of probation, and Sanchez was on probation for grand theft, according to police.
A bank representative told police the ATM did not appear to have been opened.