Robberies in the US are a dime a dozen, but one in particular had investigators perplexed. Now, more details about a scandal involving the theft of dimes by the million, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, have been released by federal authorities.
A newly unsealed indictment charges that on the evening of 13 April, four Philadelphia men made off with $234,500 – made up of more than 2m dimes – after breaking into a tractor-trailer carrying the coins. The truck driver, who had pulled into a parking lot to sleep at the time of the heist, had picked up the dimes from the US Mint and was headed to Miami. There was $750,000 worth of dimes in the truck before the robbery – a shipment that weighed about six tons and cost a pretty penny.
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Surveillance video showed a total of six men dressed in gray hoodies breaking into the truck with bolt cutters and loading the dimes into smaller bags, detectives said. The men then allegedly turned on a dime and escaped in a getaway car. But thousands of coins spilled across the parking lot in north-east Philadelphia in the process.
Court filings also said the suspects stole frozen crab legs, shrimp, meat, beer and liquor from other tractor-trailers in the area, which were also parked by drivers taking a break to rest during long-distance road journeys.
The men then sold the perishable goods over the internet, while making several attempts to redeem the dimes for more convenient denominations at four banks and various coin machines across Pennsylvania and Maryland. Less than a few thousand dollars were ultimately cashed. The whereabouts of the rest of the dimes is a coin toss.
The suspects – Rakiem Savage, 25, Ronald Byrd, 31, Haneef Palmer, 30, and Malik Palmer, 32, – are facing charges that include conspiracy, robbery and theft of government money.
If the men are convicted, the US justice system could get major payback by sending them to prison for several decades.
The Associated Press contributed reporting