Authorities Arrest 13 over German ATM Attacks

Published: 04 July 2022

ATM Machine CardGang members have used explosives to access safes in 12 ATMs across Germany. (Photo: thinkpanama, Flickr, License)

By Inci Sayki

In an operation finalized last week, German, Dutch and Belgian authorities have last week arrested 13 gang members who have stolen over 1.6 million euros (US$1.7 million) after bombing several cashpoints across Germany.

The organized crime group first came under the radar of law enforcement after an attack in March 2021, when the German Police Directorate of Osnabruck with assistance from Europol's European Serious Organized Crime Center started investigating the gang.

The attacks continued over the next 14 months and are believed to have targeted a total of up to 12 ATMs in Germany; six in Rhineland-Pfalz, three in North Rhine-Westphalia, two in Lower Saxony and one in Hessen.

The criminals used explosives to access the cash safe inside the ATMs, Claire Georges, a Europol Deputy Spokesperson told the OCCRP.

Expressing concern about the increasing use of heavy explosives that criminals are using to gain access to the cash machines, the Europol press release stated that “these explosions are putting at risk the lives of local residents and bystanders: the surrounding buildings can collapse, or fragments of the explosion hit passers-by.”

“In some cases, the perpetrators also escape the crime scene in powerful motorized vehicles at high speed (250 km/h), causing a serious risk to public safety,” the statement added.

Apart from the stolen cash, the attacks are estimated to have caused over four million euros (US$4.2 million) in damages to the premises.

The main perpetrators have all been arrested in a string of operations which employed over a hundred police officers across Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium since March 2022.

Some peripheral members of this gang are still being sought after however, said Georges.

Most of the suspects will face trial in Germany as they were arrested under European Investigation Orders issued by the German authorities.