Serious criminals left a field of devastation in January when they blew up an ATM in Schalksmühle, Sauerland.

The commercial building in which the machine was located was severely damaged by the force of the detonation, wall parts, bricks and panes were thrown around for meters.

"This field of rubble used to be a Sparkasse branch," said North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) when he showed photos of the crime scene on Wednesday to explain why he had set up a special commission in his house called "Combating and Investigating ATM demolitions” (Begas).

Pure burger

Political correspondent in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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Bombing gangs have been up to mischief in many federal states for years.

It is particularly bad in North Rhine-Westphalia, where alone 11,000 of the 30,000 ATMs nationwide are located.

Last year there were 152 explosive attacks between the Rhine and Weser, and this year there are already 73. Since autumn 2015 the LKA Düsseldorf has had the "Heat" investigation group, which centrally evaluates the most spectacular attacks - which has already led to dozens of arrests.

"But the attacks have been going up like a rocket since January," said Reul.

"It's pure luck that so far no one has died in an explosion or in the often daring escape of the perpetrators in high-powered cars.

They are extremely ruthless, knowing that they can take someone's life at any time.

The team of five, led by the experienced criminalist Christa Lübbers, is not supposed to investigate themselves, but to analyze what needs to be improved in the investigation, search and - together with the financial institutions - in prevention.

There are already first changes.

Crime scene work is concentrated at the police authorities, which have a forensic investigation department.

"In the future, experts from all disciplines will bend over every blasted machine," said Reul.

At a bank summit, the police and financial institutions agreed that a risk assessment would be drawn up for each individual ATM.

This involves, for example, whether a device can be better protected technically or whether it really needs to be accessible around the clock.

The dismantling of ATMs in particularly risky locations,

It is also the task of Soko to improve cooperation with the Dutch authorities.

Because a large part of the demolition gangs still comes from Holland.

Just on Wednesday, the Netherlands delivered a suspect to whom German investigators attributed three blasts in Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia.

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