POLSON – A Lakeside man has been charged with felony theft in the case of an ATM swiped from the foyer of a Polson bank late last month.
Cory Robert Franklin and another man, who is still being sought, are alleged to have donned masks and entered the foyer of Community Bank, where customers could access the machine 24 hours a day, early on the morning of Jan. 30.
Charging documents say approximately $24,000 was in the ATM. A motorist found the ATM, which appeared to have been opened with a cutting torch and crowbar and was missing the money, along Montana Highway 28 between Elmo and Hot Springs less than three hours after the theft.
Polson police said a green Chevy Z71 pickup had been seen in the vicinity of the bank, and a tip from a member of the community who knew Franklin had been driving one led them to the suspect.
The tipster also said Franklin wore a CAT hat similar to one worn by one of the thieves and visible in a security camera surveillance video during the theft.
According to court documents filed by Lake County Attorney Steve Eschenbacher, Flathead County sheriff’s detective Colten O’Connell drove by Franklin’s Lakeside residence at the request of Polson police.
O'Connell observed a green Chevy Z71 with a fictitious “7,” or Flathead County, license plate on the back and a mismatched “3,” or Yellowstone County, plate
on the front.
The truck turned out to have been reported stolen from a local car dealership.
Authorities then obtained a search warrant. While executing it, they learned Franklin, who had a previous burglary conviction and was on probation, was at a court hearing in Kalispell. Officers located Franklin, who was in possession of the Chevy Z71 and its keys, at the hearing.
“Franklin agreed to speak with detectives at the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, and then refused,” Eschenbacher wrote in the affidavit.
A search of the residence turned up tools similar to those seen in surveillance video of the ATM theft, and a yellow crowbar.
The ATM “appeared to have cutting torch marks, tool marks prying various parts of the ATM apart, possibly from a crowbar bearing yellow paint, as there was yellow paint transfer and paint chips left behind on the ATM,” the affidavit says.
A search of the truck revealed drag marks in the bed similar to ones on the outer panels of the ATM, yellow paint transfer similar to those on the ATM, pieces of slag indicative of use of a cutting torch, and a small piece of a gray plastic-like substance “that resembles the upper plastic cases of the ATM.”
The affidavit also says Franklin and his wife, Kristina Franklin, own a maroon Dodge Durango that has been seen on surveillance videos during other attempted thefts of ATMs and car washes in Flathead County.