The officials of the State Criminal Police Office in Düsseldorf have accurately listed every ATM explosion in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Accordingly, it started this year on January 6th with a device from Sparkasse Wuppertal, and the next day it hit Commerzbank in Warburg and Sparkasse Remscheid.

The last names on the list until mid-December were Deutsche Bank in Bad Salzuflen (December 11th) as well as the Volksbanken in Troisdorf (December 12th) and Nettersheim (December 15th).

Makes a total of 174 explosions, in the entire past year there were 69 fewer.

The new high in the most populous federal state has made a major contribution to the fact that more vending machines were registered in Germany than ever before.

This was the result of a survey by WELT AM SONNTAG.

As of December 16, the state criminal investigation offices of the federal states reported 390 explosions.

The perpetrators follow a typical pattern


This means that the previous high from 2018 was exceeded before Christmas, when an ATM was blown up 369 times in Germany according to the Federal Criminal Police Office; in 2019 there were 349 machines.

The State Criminal Police Office of Saxony was the only one that did not provide any precise information, only spoke of explosions in the "single-digit range".

Banks and police have been watching the organized robberies helplessly for years.

Despite individual successes in investigations, the incentive to act is still great.

If you manage to blast the way to the cash boxes in the machine, you can win up to 100,000 euros.

The state criminal investigation offices hardly know what else to do than to vehemently demand the shutdown of ATMs.

Source: WORLD infographic

There is a typical pattern: the criminals come at night, put gas in the ATM, ignite the mixture and disappear with the cash.

Sometimes homemade pyrotechnics and even commercial explosives are used.

Experienced gangs hardly need more than three minutes for this.

The highly motorized getaway car takes you to the next arterial road.


However, not every explosion was successful this year.

230 times something went wrong, 160 times the perpetrators achieved their goal.

The “success rate” was 41 percent, as in the previous year.

There is no shortage of opportunities.

There are around 60,000 ATMs nationwide.

The Germans' love for cash must ultimately be satisfied.

In addition, the banks neglect the protection of their machines, as the criminal police claim.

Unlike in the Netherlands, for example, there is no regulation to secure the cassettes with the cash with color cartridges, adhesive technology, gas sensors, high-resolution cameras and specially reinforced safe walls - and even if this happens, the protection is often insufficient.


According to the Rhineland-Palatinate State Criminal Police Office, the security technology used in individual cases is often based only on the minimum requirements of the insurance industry in order to get compensation for damage to buildings and stolen bills due to the lack of legal requirements.

Pandemic drove the gangs even stronger to Germany

Not only are the gangs' working patterns well known, but also their origins.

According to the Lower Saxony State Criminal Police Office, the majority of the demolitions are carried out by Dutch-Moroccan perpetrators who come from the Amsterdam and Utrecht area.

The corona pandemic has apparently driven them even more to Germany.

Because when the borders between the Netherlands and Belgium and France were closed in the meantime, from the point of view of the investigators in Hanover, the only way to go was to Germany.

The situation on the border to Eastern Europe looked different, according to the investigators, perpetrators also come from there.

The borders with Poland and the Czech Republic were temporarily closed.

The statistics show hardly any explosions for Brandenburg and Berlin.

If the police have their way, the financial sector not only has to increase protection, but also reduce the number of machines.

The large number of installation sites and service points made "significantly more difficult both the preventive and the repressive tactical measures," explains the Hessian State Criminal Police Office.

After the break: anteroom of a branch of the Volksbank in Moers

Source: picture alliance / dpa

The colleagues in Lower Saxony are calling for the "opportunities and incentives to act" to be fundamentally reduced.

This could include reducing the number of ATMs set up by the financial institutions.

Further suggestions are: to stop making the machines so full and to expand cashless payment transactions, i.e. paying by plastic card and mobile phone.

What is supposed to spoil business for the gangs would make everyday life much more difficult for people who depend on cash.

The way to the next ATM becomes longer, and the cash cassettes would be empty more often if they weren't filled so abundantly.


Individual banks have long since thinned out their machine network.

Commerzbank announced that the number of ATMs had been reduced by around 200 since 2019 to 2200 now.

The reason is not machine blow-ups, but the merging of branches of the company.

Another bank admits behind closed doors that the high number of demolitions contributed to setting up fewer machines.

The many explosions in the border regions made ATMs very expensive.

Officially, the financial sector continues to assert that it wants to invest more in security.

"The main goal of every bank or savings bank remains to recognize and prevent the act as early as possible," said the leading association of the industry, the German credit industry, on request.

The necessary investments by the banking industry are considerable.

Each credit institute carries out a location-based risk analysis and then makes its own decisions about organizational and security measures.

Risks should be minimized, especially in the case of blasting, the focus is on personal protection, according to the association.

It doesn't sound like the perpetrators will have supply problems anytime soon.