Uptowners, reeling over ATM robberies, ask why FBI doesn’t intervene 

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Courtesy of Mark Vicknair

An ATM was stolen from the Tchoup Stop early Thursday.

The violent robbery of a Capital One Bank ATM and destruction of Uptown’s Tchoup Stop gas station has neighbors in fear for their safety. Many are wondering when the FBI will make an appearance. 

The ATM was stolen with a pickup on Thursday (Feb 2) at 4 a.m. “They repeatedly smashed through the window with a truck,” said a store employee. “They kept hitting it until it fell apart.”

Sources say the robbers then tied the machine’s guts to their truck –  including the interior compartment that holds the money – dragging the remnants of the banking machine down Tchoupitoulas Street.

During the robbery, the robbers destroyed a brick portion of the building’s wall, a storefront window, the ATM, and the cashier’s booth inside the 5600 Tchoupitoulas business. The convenience store is a favorite amongst residents of the Audubon Park adjacent neighborhood.

No sighting of FBI agents at crime scene

via NOPD

A surveillance camera catches two men trying to break into an ATM at the Regions Bank drive-thru on Tchoupitoulas on Jan. 10.

A block from the gas station, a Regions Bank ATM – on bank property –  was the target of a robbery three weeks ago. 

Legal experts contacted by Uptown Messenger confirm that these type of ATM crimes fall under federal jurisdiction, but no public statement of federal involvement has been forthcoming and calls to the U.S, Attorney’s Office have not been returned.

Witnesses say that they saw no federal presence at Tchoup Stop on the morning of the Capital One ATM robbery. 

“If it fits the criteria, then the feds should absolutely get involved. It’s a bank, right?” David McCelvey, owner of Frankie & Johnny’s restaurant, a small business only yards away from the crime. 

NOPD says they are investigating

Contacted the morning of the robbery, a New Orleans Police Department spokesperson proffered a statement saying only that “the ATM machine at the location was found to be damaged.” 

After photos of the missing section of storefront and remains of the ATM had gone viral on social media, the NOPD amended the department’s statement confirming a robbery. The NOPD also stated the investigation was ongoing.

“We’ve been advised that the ATM machine was, in fact, removed from the location in this incident.”

Previous statements have linked the armed robbery of an ATM at Tastee Restaurant on Esplanade Avenue to the incident at Uptown’s Regions Bank; both crimes occurred on the same night.

Two armed assailants stole the Tastee ATM using a method similar to the method used in Tchoupitoulas robbery. After attempting to physically unrest the machine and failing, they drove their truck into the Tastee building, ramming the ATM free from its moorings, before stealing it. 

At the time, the NOPD told local news that the suspects drove a dark gray Ford F-250 pickup, which they used in the robbery. A similar truck is shown in the Regions surveillance photo. The NOPD spokesperson did not link the previous ATM crimes to the Tchoup Stop ATM robbery. 

Uptown residents speak out

Neighborhood resident Mark Vicknair took photos of the crime’s destructive aftermath after stopping to purchase gas at the station on the way to work in the early morning hours.

“Pieces of the exterior casing of the ATM machine were lying inside and outside of the store,” Vicknair said. “It’s just depressing; there doesn’t seem to be any police presence Uptown.”

“Because of the severe NOPD staffing shortage, we need all the help we can get from Feds. I feel that criminals can do whatever they want.”

Many neighborhood residents say they are suffering a plague of vandalism, carjackings, and robberies.

“I use the carwash regularly; I go right there,” said another neighbor, Todd Graffagnini. “I’ve never been in fear of living in the city — but now, this one hit me differently.

“I thought about my kids. I take them to Tchoup Shop after t-ball for ice cream,” Graffagnini continued. “That’s why it hit me. That’s also my bank. I always use that same drive-up ATM at Regions.”

Where are the feds?

Regarding federal intervention in the area’s crime spree, Graffagnini agreed that outside assistance is needed.

“If that’s what it takes,” Graffagnini said. “That’s another reason for the crimes; the criminals know they’re probably not going to get caught. It’s so brazen. There are no consequences.” 

Like many New Orleanians, Graffagnini said he believes one problems is a lack of real repercussions even if the criminals are caught. 

Video taken by Chris Granger of NOLA.com after the Tchoup Stop robbery shows large parts of the ATM being driven away in a civilian pickup truck — not inside an NOPD or FBI forensic crime unit vehicle. 

Locals say they hope concurrent federal investigations will lead to better outcomes with the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting the crimes, likely leading to stronger cases and longer sentencing guidelines. 

4 thoughts on “Uptowners, reeling over ATM robberies, ask why FBI doesn’t intervene 

    • Mr. Waring,
      They hit again! ………. The newly renovated Liquor store (former circle K) next to Perlis (across from Jefferson feed) was hit at 4:05 AM this morning. The ATM was stolen. After several impacts to the building, a truck crashed through the front wall. This sounded much louder than a rail car coupling at the river. Then the motor raced several times, and the tires spun several times while they tried to upend the ATM. They did so successfully. After about 10 minutes, one could hear the ATM and chain dragged down magazine street. They headed downtown, away from the former circle K and Perlis. A shout-out to the men in blue. NOPD was there about 10-12 minutes after the bandits drove off. Surprisingly quickly, considering it was the morning of Mardi Gras Day.

      We now must focus on the Judges’ race for Criminal Court Section “A.” Voting in 4 weeks (March 25th). It’s important!

  1. Hey let’s face it , uptown is a criminal’s paradise. You never see a police car patrolling day or night. Two Federal crimes commutes within a block of each other within 3 weeks of each other. What’s the over and under on another atm being hit nearby soon?

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