01/09/2012 08:01 EST | Updated 03/10/2012 05:12 EST

Tim Hortons drive-thrus hit by PIN pad thefts

Police in Toronto have arrested two men they say were stealing hand-held debit card terminals from drive-thru windows at Tim Hortons locations.

Thieves used wire cutters to steal the small keypads customers use to enter their personal identification numbers, police said. The devices, which are connected to the cash register with a wire, are known as PIN pads and allow customers to pay with a debit card at drive-thru locations.

Suspects in two separate cars hit nine locations, police said, before they were caught at a Tim Hortons on Kingston Road and Markham Road in Toronto's east end.

Toronto police Det. Shawn Mahoney said the suspects would place orders at the Tim Hortons drive-thru window and then offer to pay with a debit card.

“Once the debit card machine was handed to the customer, they would cut the cord of it and drive away with the PIN pad,” he told CBC News.

Police arrested two men in their 20s and seized nine stolen terminals, along with multiple sets of car licence plates and wire cutters.

Men face theft charges

Both of the accused were scheduled to appear in court on Monday. Police said they are facing a total of 48 criminal charges between them.

Thieves steal the machines with the intention of altering them so they can capture customers’ debit card numbers and PIN. After the PIN pads are stolen, they can be reinstalled at retail locations to capture bank account information, police said.

Mahoney said using the stolen PIN pads to lift debit card information would not have been a simple process.

"That's why I’m wondering how sophisticated this is," he told CBC News. "New chip technology makes it very difficult to steal debit card information," he said.

He also said the suspects made it relatively easy for police to find them. The same car was used in all the thefts and Tim Hortons locations were targeted exclusively.