ATM thief collects more than expected

by Wes Mayer

A man was arrested after a victim’s husband tackled him, holding the man down until authorities arrived.

The suspect, Markus Blake Gaston, 24, was charged with theft after withdrawing money from an ATM using a woman’s account, said Lt. Col. Jimmy Yarbrough with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. He was later charged with a second theft from earlier in August.

According to Criminal Investigator Jason Fetner’s report, a couple made a pit stop at the Newnan RaceTrac on their road trip to Pennsylvania on Friday. Using the ATM there, the wife withdrew money from her account and thought her transaction was complete. She then walked inside the convenience store.

The woman suddenly had a feeling she did not correctly close out her account, Fetner reported, and she went back outside to find a man, Gaston, withdrawing money from the machine. The woman saw her name on the ATM screen, realized the money was hers and screamed for her husband, sitting nearby in the car, to help.

Gaston is a 230-pound man, but the husband was larger, Fetner said. As Gaston was attempting to flee in his Jeep Grand Cherokee, the husband yanked him from the driver’s seat and body-slammed him onto the parking lot ground. Calls were made to 911 and the husband held Gaston down until authorities could arrive.

When deputies and Newnan Police officers arrived, Gaston was placed in custody and the money he had stolen, $300 — the maximum amount available to be withdrawn from the ATM — was returned to the couple. According to Fetner, Gaston waived his Miranda rights and admitted to the theft.

The license plate on Gaston’s Jeep was later tied to a theft earlier in August.

On Aug. 10, a man reported his wallet stolen at the same RaceTrac. The man apparently dropped his wallet and drove away and a woman found it and gave it to the store clerk. The man later discovered he lost his wallet and returned to the gas station.

The clerk had already given away the wallet to another man, Fetner said. The clerk told the owner that a man, later identified as Gaston, entered shortly after the woman returned the wallet, claiming the wallet as his. The clerk gave the wallet to Gaston, but thought he was acting suspiciously and made note of the license plate.

Gaston initially lied about the earlier theft, Fetner said, but then admitted to that crime as well. He was charged with theft by deception for the earlier theft, and he was charged with theft by taking for Friday morning’s theft. Gaston was transported to jail, where he told investigators he was addicted to opiates, prescription painkillers and methadone.

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