A joint operation by Dutch and German law enforcement has led to the arrest of eight persons responsible for several ATM robberies in Germany, Europol said, adding that it and the German Federal Criminal Police Office supported the investigation conducted by the North Holland Police and the Osnabrück Police.
According to Europol, the violent criminal group consisting of Dutch nationals is responsible for blowing up at least 23 cash machines in Lower Saxony and other German states, causing severe damage and endangering citizens as a result. In total, the criminals have caused at least EUR 3.5 million in property damages and stolen over EUR 2 million.
The suspects used powerful explosives to blow up ATMs, often located in residential buildings, before fleeing in cars while driving recklessly and at high speed. During the searches conducted this week, law enforcement seized cash and luxury goods, as well as tools and explosives, Europol said.
This type of crime is particularly prevalent in Germany. While the number of ATM robberies in the Netherlands is decreasing, most perpetrators are based in the Netherlands and operate from there. Their reliance on high-grade explosives, which they often assemble and store in residential areas, can cause serious risks to residents.
Europol said that when committing the crime itself, perpetrators typically act with no regard to the health and safety of persons living in a building where a target ATM is located. After scoping out potential attack sites and escape routes, the robbers usually arrive in the night with vehicles that are either stolen or feature stolen plates.
They then apply explosives to the cash machine and detonate them, which can cause fires or structural damage to the building. After collecting the cash money from the destroyed ATM, they flee the scene at high speed to avoid the police, showing no consideration for the safety of others on the road.
Investigations show that the criminal groups involved in ATM attacks are highly fluid in terms of size and individuals involved, and seem to have little trouble recruiting new accomplices. Despite some criminals getting severely hurt during test explosions or actual robberies, they are willing to use increasing levels of violence, amplifying the consequences for affected communities. Businesses have to close for extended periods, apartment buildings become uninhabitable and the local cash supply is impacted.