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Canberra ATM cracker refused bail

Cash machine blagger stays in slammer

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A chronic gambler from the ACT has been denied bail over charges that he stole money from ATMs in late October.

The 23-year-old, Luke Angus McLaren, is facing charges of theft and unauthorised modification of data, after posing as a technician, opening machines at the Belconnen Westfield mall, and according to police, triggering a software error that allowed him to withdraw more money than he had in his account.

He pleaded guilty to the latest charges after stealing more than $AU10,000 and spending more than $AU50,000 at Canberra Casino. He then made another attempt at an ATM but found it locked, called the machine’s owner pretending to be a technician, and was caught by police while still on the phone.

McLaren had already been placed on bail over similar charges, having been arrested in June after a session at Sydney’s Star casino. He had been charged with similar offenses over 14 separate ATM attacks in July, and again in September when he faced six charges of unauthorised modification of data and passing bad cheques.

The Canberra Times reports that he had already pleaded guilty to 29 charges (in addition to the most recent spree), however he had pleaded not guilty to other fraud charges.

Although his family, from Cowra in NSW, gave evidence that he could be cared for and employed in that community, ACT magistrate Peter Dingwall has refused bail and remanded McLaren in custody until December. ®

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