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Published: Wednesday, 8/3/2011

ATM unbolted, stolen from store in Oregon

Machine turns up in burning vehicle

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Business owner Samir El-Okdi left Toledo years ago after a number of break-ins and robberies at his central-city convenience store. He started fresh in Oregon as the owner of a Marathon gas station.

But Tuesday, Mr. El-Okdi was once again a victim of crime. The thief, or thieves, pulled an ATM from the floor and hauled it away.

The ATM turned up hours later in the 1400 block of Utah Street in East Toledo in a burning Jeep, according to Toledo police.

Police said the vehicle -- it is not clear if it was stolen -- was burned down to its shell.

The people responsible are professionals, Mr. El-Okdi said.

The break-in at the shop, 2062 Woodville Rd., happened just before 4:45 a.m., when an alarm company called Oregon police, according to a police report.

Authorities found that the back steel door was pried open and that the ATM, which was bolted to the floor, was missing.

Police reported that they found "multiple cables and boxes scattered outside of the building."

"Those guys -- I think they are specialized and they have the tools and everything," Mr. El-Okdi said.

When the ATM was stolen, it had $1,340 inside, according to an Oregon police report.

Mr. El-Okdi wasn't sure if any money was still inside the machine when police found it in the car.

In his years as a businessman, Mr. El-Okdi has had more than his share of robberies and break-ins.

The previous shop, Lucky Dollar Mini Mart, 1713 Jefferson Ave., was the target of several break-ins, including a pair only about two weeks apart in which someone who used a brick to break into the store stole cash from the register.

Things have been better in Oregon, but last year someone broke in through the shop's front door, jumped behind the counter, and took the drawer from the cash register, Mr. El-Okdi said.

He has been the victim of even more heart-breaking crime: the January, 1997, murder of his daughter, Samar El-Okdi, who at age 21 was shot and killed, her body found at the end of an alley near the Toledo Museum of Art.

Two Toledoans received the death penalty for her slaying, which a judge at the time called a "cold-blooded, senseless" crime.

In regard to the store robberies, Mr. El-Okdi is just thankful no one has ever been hurt; all of the incidents have happened while the stores were closed.

"It's safe here," Mr. El-Okdi said of Oregon, where he has been for six years. "It only takes police a few minutes to get here. We don't have any problems like that [during the day]. The only problems are those going around at night and doing things like that."

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.



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