KENSINGTON (WTXF) - Philadelphia police are looking for a man who they say helped set off an explosive device inside of an ATM. A woman believed to be his accomplice is in police custody.
The explosion occurred inside a beer distributor at Jasper and Allegheny Streets around 9:30 p.m.
Investigators say the male suspect walked into the store with the explosive in his back pocket. Then, the female suspect took it from his back pocket, put it in the ATM, and lit the fuse.
“The business was open. People were in there. This could have had a catastrophic outcome,” said Captain Sekou Kinebrew at a noontime press conference Thursday.
It was @PhillyPolice on patrol here on Allegheny Ave at 9:30 who saw smoke coming out of Kenny’s Place corner store&soon learned couple had just blew up ATM inside trying to get cash. Oddly, they didn’t hit the ATM that’s outside at store just across Jasper street @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/JRT41VohBc— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) June 21, 2018
The explosive detonated and tore apart the ATM, but did not breach the safe where the money is kept.
“The one thing it won’t result in is the perpetrator getting the money,” Captain Kinebew explained.
The store's owner tells FOX 29's Steve Keeley the female suspect is a regular customer of his, and she was taken into police custody early Thursday morning.
Police are continuing to search for the male suspect, and have released a surveillance photo of him.
Police now say this is the fourth such explosion in the city since June 8th, when someone set off an explosive device at an ATM outside a business on North 9th Street. On June 18th, two teenagers threw an explosive into this Asian takeout store on East Thayer Street. There was an ATM machine in the lobby. On June 19th, a shadowy figure can be seen on surveillance video at an ATM next to a business on North 5th Street. A fuse is lit and the ATM there blew up.
“Our bomb squad is looking at that in tandem with these other ones,” the Captain added.
Bomb experts say these devices, called “quarter sticks” on the street, are simple and crudely made. More importantly, they’re extremely dangerous.
“All you have to do is light the wick and wait and it will explode. If the objective, and we believe it is, is to breach the compartment where the money is held, it doesn’t work so stop,” Captain Kinebrew warned.
Experts say these devices are more like an M-100. Those are not legally produced in Pennsylvania and not legal to possess, according to police.
Investigators are looking for several men and, again, four explosions. Three at ATMs. None resulted in the suspects getting any money. Those ATMs can contain tens of thousands.