Police: Man steals $1,000 in quarters from ice machines

LIVONIA, LA (WAFB) - There are three ice machines in the heart of Livonia in Pointe Coupee Parish that many fishermen rely on to fill up coolers prior to heading out on a fishing trip.  The problem is, only one of the three is currently working.

"When people come to the ice machines, now they're either malfunctioning or out of ice and they have to go somewhere else to buy the ice," said Owner Lynn Drago.

Drago and her husband own the ice dispensers and said they started noticing money missing about a month ago, but could not figure out if it was the machines malfunctioning or someone stealing from them.  Then last week, they got their answer.

"The money was completely out of machines and it was more than one machine so we knew someone was taking from it,"  said Drago.

The suspect was caught on surveillance video with his right hand pulling away very quickly.  Police said the man would insert a $5 bill and as soon as the machine would recognize it, he would yank the bill back out and use it over and over again keeping the change.

"It was amazing to see somebody doing this.  You think how does somebody think of something like that?" asked Drago.

The person would get back $3.50 from every transaction and police said it took only a matter of minutes to empty out each machine.  After emptying one, he would move to the second one, and then third one and over the past month, police said he stole nearly $1,000.

"To be honest with you, I haven't seen that trick in a while because most of the new vending machines won't allow that to happen," said Livonia Police Chief Brad Joffrion.

Chief Joffrion said this has been happening for nearly a month with the suspect hitting all hours of the day and night moving from machine to machine.  He's believed to be a white man, who is six feet tall with long, black hair.  

He's been caught on camera in two different trucks --- a grayish Ford pickup and also as a passenger in a white GMC truck with a golden retriever in the back.

"It's sad to think someone is taking something that's yours and probably going elsewhere and doing the same thing to other people," said Drago.  "They've just outsmarted the machines themselves."

Now, police need your help to outsmart the man, identify him and turn him over to keep the Drago's profits from melting away.

If you can help police in identifying the suspect, call Livonia Police at 225-637-2520 or Crime Stoppers at 344-STOP.

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