WINTER HAVEN, FL -- It seems the tried and true often works for criminals. A brazen thief in Winter Haven, FL, made off with a single-head bulk vending machine on Nov. 9 by claiming to be its owner. According to local reports, the thief entered Sakura, a Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar, midday and claimed he needed to repair the machine. He then loaded it into a car and drove away.
Although one of the oldest tricks in the book, the scam is going through a resurgence, with more reports of similar thefts in recent years. Veteran operators have observed that these kinds of thefts could be prevented by inexpensive security devices, securing equipment to walls and outfitting route personnel with uniforms -- even only ball caps emblazoned with company logos.
There are no leads in the Winter Haven case, but authorities are asking anyone with information to contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at (800) 226-TIPS (8477).