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Authorities: Flowery Branch man tried to use ax to open ATM
Hai Quoc Bennett
Hai Quoc Bennett

A Flowery Branch man out on bond for previous alleged smash-and-grab burglaries is now accused of trying to use an ax to break open a convenience store ATM, according to authorities.

Hai Quoc Bennett, 33, has a new charge of smash-and-grab burglary and second-degree criminal damage to property.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies took a burglary call around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 3, at the Athens Highway Marathon gas station.

The deputies reviewed the surveillance video and collected evidence from the business, where investigators believe the suspect used an ax to break in the front glass door.

“Once inside, he attempted to use the axe to break into an ATM machine. Failing to open the machine, he attached a chain to it and attempted (to) pull it out with a car but was unsuccessful,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth wrote in a news release.

The suspect then drove away.

The department’s active criminal enforcement unit identified Bennett as the suspect and found him within 12 hours at a residence on Misty Oak Drive in Flowery Branch.

Bennett also had a warrant for second-degree criminal damage to property from a May 6 incident, where he allegedly scratched the side of a car. The damage was more than $500.

Bennett was booked into the Hall County Jail, where he remains.

Bennett was previously charged with breaking the glass and stealing merchandise at businesses across Oakwood and Gainesville in May.

He was indicted on multiple charges of smash-and-grab burglary in August by a Hall County grand jury.

Defense attorney Brett Willis declined to comment.