SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — A malfunctioning ATM at a TD Bank branch in South Portland spit out more than $37,000 to a homeless man Thursday morning, a police official confirmed.

Lt. Todd Bernard of the South Portland Police Department said Friday morning that officers were first called to the bank branch at 1 a.m. Thursday.

“We got a call that he was sleeping in the [ATM] vestibule, and we had to move him along,” Bernard said. “Then at around 5:30 a.m., we got another call that he was back there and taking an unusually long time at the ATM by a woman who was trying to use it. She thought it seemed suspicious.”

When they arrived a second time, police officers found the same man inside filling a shopping bag with cash from the ATM. Police say he had more than $37,000 in cash in the bag when they arrived.

Bernard said the man, who will not be identified unless charges are filed against him, had an ATM card and about $100 in his account. But he was using the “cash advance” feature on the machine and repeatedly requesting $700.

The ATM obliged an estimated 53 times before police intervened. Bernard said the cash advance option on an ATM is for people who have a pre-approved line of credit with a bank, which the homeless man did not have.

Officers returned the money to the bank.

“It is illegal. He is taking money that doesn’t belong to him, and the bank at this point has elected not to prosecute, although the case is still under investigation,” Bernard said. “That ATM has been taken out of service and is being checked out to determine why it malfunctioned.”

Bernard said the man was released from the scene. The police official said the man carries a Utah identification card, but has been in South Portland “for some time now,” and local police have encountered him on multiple previous occasions.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.