Nov 6, 2013 The Associated Press

Man pleads guilty to ATM thefts

BOISE, Idaho -- A Las Vegas man targeted at least 21 ATMs in Wyoming and other western states as part of a crime spree involving the theft of $124,000 in cash and tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the equipment, a federal prosecutor said.

Clarence Edward Lancaster, 57, appeared in U.S. District Court in Boise on Monday and pleaded guilty to one count of bank larceny after authorities said he pried open an ATM on a college campus in Twin Falls, Idaho.

As part of his deal with prosecutors, he acknowledged other ATM thefts from June 2012 through January 2013, in Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Utah, Oregon and Arizona, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said in a press release following the plea.

The thefts involved some $124,000 in U.S. currency, $88,000 in damages caused to the machines, and $3,600 in property damage to buildings and equipment.

Lancaster was arrested in Arizona on Jan. 21 after a music instructor at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher saw a man walking toward an area in a closed building where an ATM was located.

The instructor, who was rehearsing with students in the building closed for the Martin Luther King holiday, recorded the man's license plate and turned it over to police. Lancaster was later stopped and arrested in his Cadillac Escalade.

Grizzly deaths drop in park region

Grizzly bear deaths have declined more than 50 percent this year in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, a vast area centered on the national park but also including neighboring areas of northwestern Wyoming, eastern Idaho and southern Montana.

Frank van Manen, leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, said 24 grizzly bears have died so far in 2013 in the area. He said 56 bears died in the area last year. He said the rate of female bears with cubs also is high this year.

The numbers are particularly notable because whitebark pine trees produced fewer cones than usual, an important food for the bears. The bears' reaction to declines in cone production will help determine if the bear is removed from the endangered species list.

The study team will address how grizzly bears respond to changes in food supplies at a Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Bozeman, Mont.

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