Police are searching for six men who stole about $200,000 in dimes last week in the overnight heist of a tractor-trailer that was holding roughly $750,000 in coins from the U.S. Mint.
In the middle of the night between April 12 and April 13, police said, the men, wearing black clothing and gray hooded sweatshirts, broke into a tractor-trailer parked in the lot of the Walmart at Franklin Mills Mall on the 4300 block of Byberry Road.
The trailor contained millions of dimes, police said. There were 15 pallets of coins inside, each holding about 500,000 dimes worth approximately $50,000, said Capt. John Ryan, commanding officer of the North East Detectives.
In all, that’s 7.5 million dimes worth $750,000. The coins were being transported from the U.S Mint in Philadelphia and were destined for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, in Miami, Fla., when the driver parked the vehicle and went off to get some sleep, police said. Police do not believe the driver colluded in the theft.
The thieves cut a flimsy lock on the back of the truck and entered to find the pallets of dimes inside, said Ryan. Each pallet weighed more than 1.25 tons, or 2,500 lbs., according to the U.S. Mint.
The thieves broke open about four or five pallets, said Ryan, and stole about $200,000 in coins, leaving mounds of dimes scattered across the lot and down the road.
Authorities are also searching for two cars, a white Chrysler 300 with tinted windows, and a dark pickup truck.
The mess, Ryan said, was a result of haphazard improvisation after the thieves realized the bags of dimes in the pallets were too heavy for one person to move. So they broke open the larger bags and loaded them into smaller bags, spilling dimes out of the back of the tractor-trailer and down the road as they made their escape, he said.
Surveillance footage shows one of the getaway cars stopping to steal nearby recycling bins, presumably to use to carry their heavy, unwieldy loot, said Ryan.
Officials at the U.S. Mint said the shipment was handled by a commercial contractor that was insured against loss or theft. After the incident, officials said, “The Mint has implemented countermeasures to aid in the prevention of similar types of thefts in the future.”
Police said the heist was part of a larger pattern of cargo thefts. Crews of thieves often stake out trucks parked in lots overnight until the next morning for deliveries, Ryan said. In the middle of the night, crews cut through fences and snip padlocks with bolt cutters to access and steal the cargo.
Thieves most often target tractor-trailers carrying cargo of liquor or food, he said. They also target trucks carrying electronics.
In the case of the dime heist, Ryan said, the thieves were likely surprised by the bounty of coins they found inside the tractor-trailer.
“If that was targeted,” he said, “clearly they would have come prepared.”