The arrest of three Franklin County residents should snap a string of vending machine break-ins at businesses and stores throughout the area, authorities said.
Detectives are in the process of questioning the suspects, two men and a woman, from the Labadie area, Sheriff Gary Toelke said Tuesday.
Over the past several weeks, thieves have been breaking into “numerous” vending machines in Franklin, St. Louis and Gasconade counties and stealing money, the sheriff’s office reported.
Washington police said at least two incidents were reported at businesses here including one last week. Police said they found another machine had been tampered with but was not opened.
Union police responded Saturday, June 2, to a local pharmacy and discovered that the lock on one machine had been tampered with but was not opened. The business reported recent thefts and damage to soda vending machines, police said.
Toelke said police agencies in the three counties have been exchanging information to determine a possible link in the crimes and to identify possible suspects.
Based on surveillance photographs taken at businesses in St. Louis County and Eureka, Franklin County detectives were able to identify three suspects known to police in the county. Photos also were obtained of a vehicle used by the suspects.
A break in the investigation came about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, June 2, when a county deputy checking vending machines outside Krakow Store on Highway A discovered that one of the machines had been broken into.
Another deputy who arrived to assist said he had been searching for the three suspects and believed that they were at a home in Terrace Hill Trailer Park at Labadie.
Deputies who responded to that location found the vehicle that was in the photographs and confronted the three suspects, a 31-year-old woman and two men, both age 34, all of Labadie.
All three were identified as being in the surveillance photos, the sheriff’s office said.
The woman, who was wanted by St. Louis County police for questioning in another investigation, admitted to being involved in the thefts in St. Louis County and that she was pictured in the surveillance photos.
The men refused to talk to deputies and denied that they were the subjects in the photos.
The vehicle was seized as evidence in the investigation. Inside, detectives found materials believed to be from the vending machine broken into at Krakow Store, the sheriff’s office said. Tools inside the vehicle also were seized, Toelke said.
A complete list of where the vending machine break-ins occurred was not immediately available.
The sheriff said the investigation is ongoing.