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25 September 2023, North Rhine-Westphalia, Erfstadt: A badly damaged storefront of a bank branch. Unknown persons blew up an ATM at a bank branch in Erftstadt, Germany, on Monday morning. Photo by Thomas Banneyer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Dutch and German Police Arrest 8 Suspects in Violent ATM Bombings and Thefts

On 15 November, Dutch and German law enforcement arrested eight people allegedly responsible for several violent ATM robberies in Germany which have caused at least €3.5 million ($3.8 million) in property damage and the theft of €2 million ($2.2 million).

The suspects, who are all Dutch nationals, are suspects in incidents where at least 23 ATMs were blown up in German states, including Lower Saxony, “with the first occurring in August 2021 in Osnabrück and the most recent in January in Duisburg,” the NL Times reported.

The explosions caused severe damage, according to Europol, which supported the investigation and the arrests. “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,” Europol said in a press release about the arrests.

The Dutch police worked closely with German police in the investigation and the arrests. Seven men and one woman were arrested on Wednesday, with the suspects ranging in ages from 19 to 27. The woman, 23, is suspected of laundering money for the group, according to Dutch law enforcement. Currently, the group is in police custody and is only permitted contact with his or her legal counsel.

While searching the homes and properties of the suspects with officers, explosives detection dogs, and Dutch explosives experts, law enforcement seized explosives, cars, cash, and luxury goods, including watches and jewelry.

In press conference on 16 November hosted by German police, authorities said that the during the searches, law enforcement was able to identify another 10 members of the criminal group.

With increased security measures around ATMs in the Netherlands, the suspects focused on targets in Germany—an apparent trend as Dutch police cited that ATM robberies in Germany were increasing and that a “large proportion” of the thieves were suspected of being from the Netherlands.

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In response to the 450 explosive thefts that occurred in 2022—180 of which were in North Rhine-Westphalia—law enforcement arrested 60 Dutch people suspected of involvement in one of more of the thefts. Between January 2023 and April, there were 58 explosive ATM thefts in a German state bordering the Netherlands, and 57 Dutch people arrested, according to Dutch news site, NH Nieuws.

After researching an ATM’s location and getaway routes, the thieves will arrive in stolen or rental vehicles or ones with stolen plates, attach explosives to the cash machine, and then detonate, according to Europol.

Dutch law enforcement claim that the explosives used in the thefts are usually assembled or stored in residential areas, posing a threat to other civilians. The groups targeting ATMs are also notable for their willingness to use violence.

German authorities have asked Dutch authorities for the extradition of the suspects.