Hackers Stole $30,000 by Cracking ATM Codes in Marina del Rey

Surveillance camera footage shared by law enforcement shows suspects accused of hacking into an ATM at the Marina del Rey Marriott

The Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station and the United States Secret Service have launched a joint investigation into recent hackings of at least two ATM machines in the marina, where high-tech bandits made off with a combined haul of about $30,000.

Surveillance video shows five suspects — three men and two women — unlocking an ATM inside the Marina del Rey Marriott on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 and stealing more than $15,000, according to investigators.

“We believe that the suspects were definitely using a laptop computer at the scene to help facilitate overriding the ATM’s codes. The hacking device is still unknown,” said Det. Ralpheal Banks of the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station. “On the video surveillance you can see them using a laptop to complete the hacking.”

Banks said the hackers are knowledgeable about ATM machines because they were able to open the machines immediately after hacking their security codes. The Secret Service is involved because the agency is tasked with safeguarding the country’s banking and financial systems.

“I believe that the suspects are scouting out certain locations and certain ATMs. These people are experts with this type of hack. They understand how to override bank codes. They are more sophisticated than most hackers,” Banks asserted.

Sheriff’s detectives also suspect the thieves of robbing another ATM inside the Pearl Apartments at 4111 Via Marina on Sept. 12 and making off with nearly the same amount of cash taken from the Marina del Rey Marriot — more than $15,000.

“The hack was done in the same manner as the hotel hack,” said Banks, noting that both targeted ATMs were stand-alone machines not attached to a wall at a bank. “We have recovered some evidence from the scene, and the investigation is in its early stages.”

Surveillance video from the Marina del Rey Hotel shows suspects described as a white male 30 to 35 years old, 5’6” and 160 pounds; a white male 5’6” and 180 pounds; a white female 5’4” and 130 pounds; a white male 5’7” and 160 pounds; and a white female 5’4” and 140 pounds. Investigators are asking anyone with information about the thefts to call Banks at (310) 242-6206.

— Gary Walker

Venice Dogz Plan Boardwalk Starbucks Protest

The neighborhood group that organized protests against Snapchat’s former expansion along the Venice Boardwalk and the eviction of the Venice Beach Freakshow will be back in action on Saturday (Jan. 5), returning to 909 Ocean Front Walk to protest a Starbucks that quietly opened there last month.

Venice Dogz: An Alliance for the Preservation of Venice is recruiting locals to picket the coffee shop from 1 to 5 p.m. and call for a new city ordinance to prevent additional national chains from setting up shop on the Venice Boardwalk. Santa Monica City Council members recently voted to ban fast-food chains from Third Street Promenade, and Los Angeles City Councilman has stated his support for a prohibition against chain restaurants and stores on the Venice Boardwalk.

“Ocean Front Walk is the identity of Venice, and we feel it must be preserved and protected from turning into the next Third Street Promenade, The Grove or Universal City Walk,” says Venice Dogz organizer Mark Rago. “People come to Venice to see things that are different and to see things they’ve never seen before, not to see the same stores you see everywhere else. Cities all over the country have put in ordinances to prohibit or limit national chains in their towns or parts of their towns. … There’s no reason we can’t do the same here.”

— Joe Piasecki

Pedestrian Killed Crossing Centinela in Mar Vista

Last week a pedestrian attempting to cross Centinela Avenue in Mar Vista was struck by two northbound vehicles and pronounced dead at the scene. The collisions occurred near the terminus of Barbara Avenue, a few blocks south of Venice Boulevard and close to the Grand View Boulevard Elementary School campus.

According to investigators, a Latino male in his fifties was crossing Centinela eastbound at just before 9 p.m. Friday (Dec. 28) when he was first struck by a car traveling northbound along Centinela. LAPD investigators say that collision knocked the man some 30 feet up the street, where he was struck by a second northbound vehicle and suffered blunt force trauma to the head and torso.

Contrary to reports on Twitter, both drivers stopped and identified themselves to law enforcement. LAPD traffic investigators say it does not appear that alcohol, drugs or excessive speed factored into the fatal crash. Anyone with additional information is asked to call investigators at (213) 473-0234 during business hours or (877) 527-3247 on nights or weekends.

— Gary Walker