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Alleged cross-country vending-machine bandit caught

Posted May 15, 2008

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— The arrest of a man caught breaking into a vending machine could put an end to an alleged crime spree that the man says netted him thousands of dollars.

Benson police arrested Ricky Bailes, 47, of Sharlett Drive in Salisbury, before dawn Thursday after an officer spotted him opening a vending machine with homemade keys.

Authorities said they also found two bags and a laundry detergent bottle filled with approximately $590 in coins.

They said Bailes also confessed to breaking into numerous vending machines across the country, including locations along Interstate 95 over the past few days. Several local police departments are already in contact with Benson police about other vending machine thefts.

"He said, at one point, he'd been from the North Carolina area all the way out to California over the years, but most recently he'd been up and down the East Coast," Benson Police Chief Kenneth Edwards said.

"In fact, he was quite proud of the fact that he could enter a machine and not do any damage to it," Edwards added.

Police said Bailes told them he has made a career of breaking into vending machines with his keys and lock codes that he kept stored in a handheld computer.

Edwards said Bailes claimed he stole in excess of $100,000 last year.

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  • colliedave May 16, 2008

    The issue is what charges can the various states bring against him that is more than just petty theft? He stole a bundle but I don't know what charges a state can bring; the feds may be another story.

  • 1Rx4FN May 16, 2008

    I wonder if he posted bail in nickels, dimes, quarters and Funyuns.

  • ThePunisher May 16, 2008

    He was caught in the act and it's "alleged" he's a bandit?

  • we-r-just-human May 16, 2008

    He got caught because he kept hitting the local spots.... I bet the HIGH gas prices caused that...

  • Thought Criminal WS May 16, 2008

    Gotta love criminals like this: no guns, no weapons, no hurting innocent bystanders, and when caught admits to it!

    Heck, he's got better qualities than politicians!

  • WHEEL May 16, 2008

    He is only slightly more of a crook than the vending machine folks that charge 1$ for a $.17 drink.

  • oldrebel May 16, 2008

    Sounds to me his ego got the best of him. Except for the one incident that caught him red handed at, what else could they charge him with except based on his "confession?" Just having a bag full of change isn't against the law, and if he used keys and codes that caused no damage to the machines he robbed, how would they (law enforcement) even know where he had stolen from? I guess once they caught him, he just had to brag about what he'd been doing for so long and they let him dig his own hole.

  • Dr. Dataclerk May 16, 2008

    Now that he is lock-up, the officials had better make certain he cannot tamper with the jail keys.

  • discowhale May 16, 2008

    Well, if he stole that much, he probably ate better than the boobs who frequent the machines!

  • Iamcornholio May 16, 2008

    $100,000 Admit nothing you doofus.

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