Thessaloniki police yesterday announced the arrest of a Gypsy gang that allegedly used stolen heavy machinery to lift a total of 16 cash machines from various parts of Greece. The nine suspects then loaded the ATMs on trucks that had also been specially stolen for the operation, and carried the heavy, money-stuffed machines to secluded spots where they opened them at their leisure, police said. Altogether, the gang netted some 500,000 euros following hits in Thessaloniki, Larissa, Glyfada, Ekali, Koropi, the Corinth Canal area, Inofyta and the Argos area between January and April 2004. Their crude method of removing the machines – which were all freestanding, and mostly in out-of-the-way areas – using stolen cranes caused an estimated 300,000 euros in damage. After three suspected gang members were arrested in July, their accomplices allegedly tried to mislead police by paying two Thessaloniki drug addicts to stage a similar hit. The trick backfired when the two were caught red-handed and told officers of their assignment.