Thieves target coin-operated laundry machines in Fargo

FARGO, N.D. (VALLEY NEWS LIVE)-- Police are trying to tackle the wave of theft brought on by thieves targeting coin-operated laundry machines.

Apartment complexes in Fargo have been hit hard, putting owners out hundreds of dollars.

Locksmiths said there have been over 50 reported cases in Fargo within the last month. And these thieves aren't just walking away with a little pocket change either, according to LockShop manager Rich Odegaarde.

"It's definitely got to be money," Odegaarde said. "A box like this, full, could probably hold 400 to 500 dollars worth of quarters."

He said the shop has reached out to the Fargo police, but they said there is not much they can do. So, washers dryers are costing apartment owners more than they are earning.

"If we have to go in and drill one of these open to replace it, it is a 55 dollar service call," Odegaarde said. "Anyone in town with a vehicle, tools and a technician."

But, Odegaarde said not to worry and that there are simple steps apartment owners can take that will make a big difference.

Putting on latch guards to protect boxes from screwdrivers and covering the slots with a padlock are just a few examples of how to up security. But, in the meantime, a Fargo's Finest Coin Laundry employee has a quick fix.

"You just gotta keep it collected," Judson Welter said. "You just gotta keep the things empty, so there's really not the opportunity to steal."

Some experts suggest getting rid of quarter machines. Whether it is increasing rent to include laundry fees or switching to a card method, there are ways to avoid theft entirely.

Breaking into these coin boxes is a felony that could result in fines and/or jail time.