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Man faces theft charge for recoding ATM machine, taking $7,400

WILLMAR -- A 33-year-old Lake Lillian man made his first appearance Tuesday on a felony charge of theft for allegedly reprogramming the code in an automated teller machine and taking $7,400 from the machine.

Unconditional bail was set at $5,000 for Sheldon Dee Peterson. Conditional release was allowed on his personal recognizance, provided he not enter the Lake Lillian branch of Citizens State Bank of Clara City. His next appearance in Kandiyohi County District Court is March 2.

Peterson also faces misdemeanor charges for fleeing a peace officer by means other than a motor vehicle and for driving after revocation.

According to the complaint, a Kandiyohi County sheriff's detective was assigned Friday to investigate the theft of cash from the bank. Bank employees reported that, since Feb. 7, there were ATM transactions where the code for the cash bill denominations was changed prior to the transactions. The machine was being reprogrammed to record cash distributions that were much less than what was actually paid out. This had happened six times in a week.

The detective reviewed surveillance video and staked out the building that evening. Around 11 p.m., a vehicle pulled up, and a person, later identified as Peterson, got out and approached the ATM. He matched the general description of the person in the video surveillance.

The detective arrested Peterson and found 32 $20 bills on him. He attempted to run away from the officer, but was physically subdued and taken into custody. Bank officers checked the ATM and found that the code had been changed, which was consistent with what had been done to the machine on the other occasions.