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A 17-Year-Old Faces Charges For Allegedly Taping Fish To ATM Machines Around Utah

Source: Freepik

There’s no doubt that a lot of Americans have a problem with overspending. They may wish they could scale back or get out of deep water. One undoubtedly strange teenager in Utah took it upon himself to curtail spending by taping dead animals to ATMs. You might be wondering why… so let’s see if we can reel in some answers.

Something Fishy At Utah ATMs

Imagine stopping by your local ATM to grab some cash for a meal with friends or to tip your hairdresser. You pull up expecting a quick and easy transaction. Instead, you find something very unusual: a dead fish duct-taped to the screen of the ATM. What would you do?

Source: Instagram/fish_bandit84

News reports about the fish bandit don’t say how many ATMs he fish-ified, but his Instagram feed features only four pictures of fish taped to ATMs. A few other pictures appear to depict moments leading up to the placement of the fish and include shots of the perpetrator’s feet, clad in sneakers.

When Did The Fish Bandit Strike?

The fish bandit’s antics took place mostly between August and October of 2023. It’s difficult to piece together a timeline since it appears that many of the bandit’s pictures and videos may have been deleted from Instagram. It’s unclear when the deletions happened but it may have been after the bandit’s arrest.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s possible that the timeframe may have been longer than a few months. We say that because there were deleted pictures on the account depicting fish vandalism that happened outside of Utah. With travel time taken into account, it’s possible that the crime spree lasted longer than we think.

Where Did The Fish Bandit Leave Fish?

Some reports of the fish bandit’s activities focus on the areas around Provo and Orem, both in Utah. However, there’s evidence from the fish bandit’s own account that he may have strayed far afield, turning what started as a local prank into an international affair.

Source: Instagram/fish_bandit84

According to some deleted posts, there were fish left in various locations in the Beehive State. Other images were identified as being in Phoenix, Arizona; Guatemala City, Guatemala; and Frankfurt, Germany. Most were left in ATMs, but some were left in stores and taped to cars.

Taunting The Police

The most audacious act of the fish bandit appears to have targeted Provo police: the very same law enforcement officers who were tracking the bandit. Taking a break from ATMs, the bandit taped a fish to a police car. It’s not clear where the car was parked.

Source: Instagram/Bandit84

The fish in question appears to be a trout, although it’s difficult to say for sure due to the poor resolution. Going around town taping fish to ATMs is brazen enough. Attacking a police car takes the so-called prank to another level. There’s no question the fish bandit has nerves of steel.

What Types of Fish Did The Bandit Use?

You might be wondering if the fish bandit stuck to trout or offered a variety of fish species to Utah ATM users. The answer is that he used a variety of fish. As you might expect, given Utah’s landlocked status, his choices were all freshwater species that might be found in local lakes or rivers.

Source: Provo Police Department

According to police, the fish bandit used these species in addition to trout: bass, bluegill, carp, catfish, and crappie. He switched things up a bit. At least once that we know of, he added a prop by placing a cigarette in the fish’s mouth before taping it to the ATM.

Who Is The Mysterious Fish Bandit?

You might be wondering who this mysterious fish bandit is. We don’t know very much about him. His Instagram handle is fish_bandit84. His bio on the social media platform doesn’t reveal much. It reads simply, “Live, laugh, tape fish on ATMs No fish were harmed in the process.”

Source: Pexels/cottonbro studio

News reports about the bandit’s capture say only that he’s 17 years old and lives in the Provo area. It’s likely that his name is being kept private because he’s still a minor. It’s unclear at this point what charges he might face as a result of his pranks… or artwork, depending on how you look at it!

Is It True That No Fish Were Harmed During These Pranks?

One of the biggest questions about the fish bandit is whether his statement that no fish were harmed is true. The fish are, after all, dead. But were they dead when he got them or did he kill them before placing them on the ATMs? That question deserves an honest answer… and unfortunately, there’s evidence that fish may have suffered.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

There are a few videos on the fish bandit’s Instagram. Some show fish on ATMs, but one shows a fish taped to the inside of the bathroom door at a Bass Pro Shop. Sadly, the fish is clearly still alive and gasping for air. Several commenters called the bandit out on the fish’s suffering.

What Consequences Will The Fish Bandit Face?

Is it really so bad to tape fish to ATMs? Do the fish bandit’s activities warrant criminal charges? According to the Provo Police Department, they do. What might have seemed like an innocent prank had real consequences. It goes beyond mere inconvenience for people who might want to use the ATMs in question.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The charges in question are for property damage. The banks that own the ATMs that were attacked incurred expenses to clean up the mess the bandit left behind. Due to the young man’s age, the charges will be adjudicated in juvenile court. It’s unlikely his name will ever be released to the public.

The Line Between Public Art And Vandalism

There’s a long history of artists putting their work in public places. Their actions may sometimes be viewed as vandalism. Banksy is a famous example of an artist who spray paints public buildings. People have speculated about his identity for decades.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another famous example is the Charging Bull statue on Wall Street in New York City. An artist placed a statue called the Fearless Girl opposite it. The statue has also been written on and gashed. It’s a tale as old as time… but we hope the next bandit doesn’t hurt any animals to make a point.

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James Stafford

Written by James Stafford

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