CENTRALIA — A man accused of exploding an ATM in order to steal its contents at a Centralia bank in December has been charged with one count each of unlawful possession or control of a explosive device, first-degree malicious mischief and first-degree theft.
The man was the first suspect arrested after police released photographs of two people involved in the incident. Bail for the defendant, Ryan Thomas Moulder, 38, was set at $500,000.
The explosion occurred on the morning of Sunday, Dec. 19, at First Security Bank, 604 S. Tower Ave., Centralia.
According to court documents, the ATM safe was estimated to contain over $39,000. The incident prompted investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad.
It was found that at least two people were involved in the Centralia crime, working together to siphon acetylene gas into the machine with a hose and igniting it, causing an estimated $25,000 in damage. The large explosion damaged the suspects’ vehicle and left debris in all directions with some over 140 feet away from the ATM. They then fled the location with the safe.
Court documents don’t indicate whether any of the money was recovered.
Moulder was identified from video surveillance of the event by multiple law enforcement officials with prior contact to him and by an informant. He was arrested earlier this week in Olympia.
“According to the informant … the defendant had previously borrowed an acetylene tank but later returned it, indicating it did not work as planned,” court documents stated. “There was an attempt to a similar type of theft in Thurston County. Based upon video from both locations (Thurston County and Centralia), the defendant appears to be the Thurston County suspect as well.”
Moulder appeared in court for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday. Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher asked Judge James Lawler for bail to be set at $1 million, due to the “risk to community safety” and that the crime could have caused “damage (for) a lot of people.”
He also said Moulder had an outstanding warrant for arson at the time of his arrest.
Defense Attorney Rachel Tiller asked Lawler that the bail be reduced to no more than $100,000 secured bail because of his financial situation, saying Moulder has no income and further arguing that he is living in a stable housing situation and has assured he will have stable transportation to and from court.
Tiller said the defendant could dispute the warrant for arson and was not being held on that charge.
“Clearly there is a threat to community safety,” Lawler said, setting the bail to $500,000.
Moulder is due to appear in court again on Thursday, Jan. 13.