“Bonnie and Clyde” and “Dog Day Afternoon”-style bank robberies, done by holding up the bank teller, have largely vanished in Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany has been gripped by a crime wave over the last few years involving highly efficient professional gangs who explode automated teller machines in the wealthy central European country, which has at least 55,000 ATMs.
The German daily broadsheet Die Welt (The World) published an investigative report on January 13 on the organized crime robbery spree of roughly 500 ATMs in 2022.
The professional gangs “break into branches, blow up ATMs and disappear as fast as they arrived. They are not recognizable. They work with the precision and speed of a race car team at the pit stop. They accept that people may be injured or killed,” wrote Die Welt’s Philipp Woldin.
The newspaper called the robberies of ATMs a “new generation of bank robbers.”
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The crime scene after criminals blew up an ATM at a German bank. (Photo: Hesse’s State Office of Criminal Investigation/Europol.)
The 55,000 ATMs are an invitation for highly specialized thieves who to travel to Germany, noted the article. Tens of thousands of ATMs in Germany store around $55,000 to $110,000 in them.
Germany’s Federal Criminal Agency registered a total of 414 attempts of ATM robberies in 2020. That figure was not broken down into how many attempts were successful. The following year saw a similar number of ATM crimes.
German police and judicial officials are raising alarm bells about the exploding ATMs.
A judge in the German state of Hesse recently spoke of “war-like damage” when he sentenced a man for blowing up an ATM. Police officials have termed the crime wave “bomb attacks in public space.”
According to Swen Eigenbrodt, the director of a Germany-wide special unit for criminal police in Hesse, “It is a miracle that there have not been deaths yet.” Eigenbrodt’s specialized unit works with banks and prosecutors to combat the massive assaults on ATMs.
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A blown-up ATM after criminals robbed it in Germany. (Photo: Hesse’s State Office of Criminal Investigation/Europol.)
According to a May 18, 2022, notice from The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) that was reviewed by Fox News Digital, Europol and the Dutch Police worked together with the German Police Directorate of Hochtaunus to arrest “3 suspected members of a criminal gang responsible for a string of robberies targeting ATMs in Germany. ”
Europol added that “These arrests follow those of 3 other members of the same criminal group on 30 March 2022 in Hesse.”
The professional gang is said to have targeted eight cash machines in the German states of Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony and Rhineland Palatinate between October and November 2021, stealing over $1 million in cash.
According to the Europol report, “The group would attend at the scene often in stolen vehicles in the early hours of the morning, and used explosives to break into the ATMs so that they could then steal the cash from inside them. They caused millions of Euros worth of damage to the premises they attacked, demonstrating no insight into the risk of harm, or even possibility of death, to those who lived nearby or who were near the machines at the time.”
A criminal syndicate has been blowing up ATM machines in Germany. In one month in 2021, it stole some $1 million. (Photo: Hesse’s State Office of Criminal Investigation/Europol.)
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In October, Die Welt reported that the “perpetrators belong to a 700-member network of largely Moroccan-Dutch criminals.” The Dutch authorities believe the “Moroccan mafia” is responsible for the murder of the Dutch crime reporter Peter de Vries, who had been researching the network.
The authorities have also identified German and Italian criminals who are part of ATM-robbery networks.
The organized criminals divide their work into drivers, explosive experts, logistical specialists and other assistants, said a prosecutor who works with Eigenbrodt’s team.
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An association called “Alliance Automated Teller Machines” has been established to combat the crime wave. The Alliance has members from banks, government and police who regularly meet, wrote the paper.