Thieves target cryptocurrency ATM during South End store break-in

Crypto-currency ATM broken into

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - For the first time in four years of operation, thieves targeted The Art of Vape shop in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood Monday.

The shop owner, Christos Meli, said that at least two people broke into the shop in the early morning hours. He was surprised to find none of the store's signature tattoo or vaping merchandise was taken. Instead, the thieves targeted his cryptocurrency ATM. The incident was captured on his store's surveillance system.

"They don't even go near anything. We have a drawer right here. They didn't even touch it. We have computers. They didn't touch any of it," explained Meli in an interview Tuesday.

He said he was initially very upset when he learned about the break-in because he thought his shop had been damaged. He was surprised to learn that wasn't the case.

"We have a lot of expensive tattoo equipment and a lot of inventory. A lot of times when vape shops get broken into it's for the vape gear," said Meli.

His ATM was created by the company CoinFlip. He said he decided to put one of the specialized ATMs in his business because he's a fan of cryptocurrency.

"I like crypto. I'm into it and I think more people should have access to it. Cryptocurrency ATMs are one of the ways people can have access to it," said Meli.

He said the ATM distributed several different cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin. Customers pay cash into the ATM in exchange for cryptocurrency. He had only had the device for a few months before it was destroyed during Monday's break-in.

CoinFlip CEO Daniel Polotsky asked that WBTV not air surveillance video showing how the machine was damaged. He sent WBTV the following statement regarding the incident.

“We pledge to always make things right with the host after something unfortunate like this happens.

The cash from the ATMs is pulled daily, and many are equipped with steel cages, dye packs, and GPS trackers with an 80%+ catch rate. We are looking to implement these features to every terminal by the end of 2018.

Anyone who has any information that leads to an arrest of these bad actors will receive a $4,000 reward. If the police crack the case, we will donate the money to a foundation of their choosing.”

Meli filed a police report with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Police say that no arrests have been made in the case.

"I hope they catch them because it's not cool that people like that are out. They're going to do it again," said Meli.

If you know who who is responsible for the break-in, call Crime Stoppers at (704) 334-1600.

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