Four men who are accused of stealing $1.1 million and breaking into over 130 ATM machines across Ontario and Quebec were arrested on Thursday and Friday, police say.
Halton Regional Police say the men were part of a group that broke into ATM machines using methods such as prying, drilling and using a blowtorch to open them and take the cash inside.
Police posted footage on YouTube last October that showed people using a blowtorch to open an ATM machine. The video was viewed over 100,000 times and and was instrumental in the investigation, police said.
Niagara resident William Nolin, 43, along with father-and-son Regean Lavigne, 48, and Maxime Lavigne, 24, of Laval, Que., were arrested Thursday in Niagara and Toronto.
The fourth suspect, 51-year-old Pierre Poirier of Quebec, was arrested Friday in Laval, Que., on unrelated warrants. Halton police have issued a Canada-wide warrant to return Poirier to Ontario to face charges in this case.
The four men have been charged with more than 30 counts of break-and-enter, more than 30 counts of possessing instruments for breaking-and-entering and a count of participating in a criminal organization.
$1.1M stolen from ATMs
"We believe that to date there's been $1.1 million as a result of the break and enters in Ontario and Quebec," Det. Sgt. Anthony Odoardi of the Halton Regional Police Service told CBC News.
He said that police have so far recovered only $10,000 to $15,000 and are conducting a forensic investigation of bank accounts to figure out where the rest of the stolen money went.
Police also seized clothing, tools for breaking-and-entering, two-way radios and a motorcycle in the arrests. Police say the group is responsible for breaking into 60 ATM machines in Quebec and over 70 machines in Ontario since Oct. 24, 2010.
The bandits targeted a wide swath of Ontario, including Niagara, Hamilton, Waterloo, York Region, Peel Region, Durham, Ottawa, Toronto and Halton regions.
"We believe the targets were carefully selected," Odoardi said, adding that they don't think any other suspects are involved. Nolin and the Lavignes are expected to appear at a bail hearing Friday at the Milton Provincial Court.
Police said they expect more charges to be laid in other jurisdictions as the investigation continues.
The arrests were the result of Project Scorch, a two-month joint investigation by the Halton Regional Police and the Toronto Police Service.