Thieves Rip Out a Cash Kiosk at Sonora Express Lube and Car Wash

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Two men drove into Sonora Express Car Wash about 4 a.m. Wednesday, September 13, attached a cable to a kiosk and used an SUV to rip out a machine holding cash.

Sonora Police Department Interim Police Chief Turu VanderWiel said surveillance footage and other information garnered at the scene produced “workable leads” and that the department is hopeful they will soon identify the suspects.

The men, in a dark blue Chevy Tahoe, drove into the car wash, tore the cash kiosk from its mount, but fled because they were “distracted by something or someone.”

It appeared the thieves had been “spooked,” VanderWiel said, but they returned about 6 a.m. and “finished the job.”

Manager Trevor Cornish of Sonora Express Lube and Carwash said his business had provided the surveillance footage, which showed the suspect’s faces as well as their license plate number.

“They pretty much put a cable around the cash box and ripped it off,” he said. “They yanked it right out.”

He said the suspects had cased the business a few days before about 4 in the morning.

“That's when we got the real good footage,” he said, noting that they made an effort to cover their faces during the theft.

VanderWiel characterized the theft as a “typical smash-and-grab type crime” where thieves use “fast and dynamic” action so that “a lot of people don't have time to react.”

People have tampered with the money and coin machines at the business in the past, he said.

Cornish remembered that change machines had been ripped off two years ago, but the bold heist of the cash kiosk had never occurred before.

“That's a new one,” he said.

The Sonora Police Department estimated the damage to the business at about $15,000, a figure that does not include the cash inside the kiosk.

Cornish said the total value of the lost and damaged property may be closer to $20,000, noting that the thieves ripped wires out of the wall and ground and damaged a pay booth mount area.

The car wash was shut down for the day following the theft, Cornish said, but reopened Thursday on limited hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once a new unit is installed in about a week, he said, the car wash will return to its normal 24-hour operation.

The investigation into the case is ongoing, VanderWiel said.

This story, written by Guiseppe Ricapito, first appeared on

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