Electronic poker machines in Townsville have been hit by a series of attacks resulting in the theft of thousands of dollars. It is believed one individual is responsible for the crime spree.
Over the past month, three pubs have been targeted, with an unknown offender ripping open the most popular pokie machines to get away with undisclosed amounts of cash. While the exact amount of money stolen remains unknown, the figure is estimated to be in the thousands, with damage to the machines estimated as high as $200,000.
According to Property Crime Detective Sergeant Ben Hunter there has been a number of licensed premises broken into and gaming machines have been targeted and the offender has caused damage to force into the machines.
Early investigations suggest these are calculated attacks where the offender has been frequenting the gaming venues to determine which machines have the highest turnover. The attacks have been caught on camera, but the offender has crouched out of view and kept his face hidden to protect his identity.
According to Arthur McMahon from one of the targeted pubs the Lillywhite Hotel Group the attacks were quick and only last about 90 seconds.
Mr McMahon the owner of the Lilywhite hotel said about four days after the attacker was at Bushie Beach, he did four Lightning Links [popular pokie machines with the highest turnovers] at the Bohle and then went to the Avenues and did two machines there.
Then again he came back and had another crack at the Bohle, but the cleaner was there and he turned around and took off. He went back to Bushie from there he tried to jimmy open a door but was disturbed and went. But he came back again and did it with another two machines.
Mr Machon said while the $200,000 machines will need to be replaced, it is the loss of income that concerns him the most.