Düsseldorf (dpa / lnw) - The number of ATM demolitions in North Rhine-Westphalia has increased significantly in recent years, and the overall damage caused has increased drastically. In the first six months of 2022 (deadline July 7), 105 ATMs in North Rhine-Westphalia have already been blown up by criminals. They caused total damage of 10,660,737 euros. This emerges from a response from the state government to a small request from AfD MPs.
According to this, the damage caused in the first half of 2022 is almost as high as in the whole of 2020. According to the NRW Ministry of the Interior, a total of 176 machines were blown up at the time, and the damage during this period amounted to 10,951,891 euros. Extrapolated to the current year, it can be assumed that the damage caused by automatic blasting will double within two years. For comparison: In 2021 there were 152 ATM demolitions with a damage of 14,934,056 euros.
According to Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU), in the first quarter of 2022 the number of blasts more than tripled compared to the same period last year. The brutality of the perpetrators has also increased, emphasized Reul. In the past, "mainly gas" was used, but now the perpetrators usually use solid explosives, so-called flash-bang bodies. "Due to the significantly higher explosive effect of solid explosives compared to detonations with gas, there are regularly high levels of damage to buildings and the surrounding infrastructure with incalculable dangers for uninvolved third parties and the forces deployed," said Reul. "Against this background, the aspect of averting danger in combating the crime phenomenon is gaining in importance."
Not least because of this, Reul set up a special commission in the spring. The task of Soko BEGAS (fighting and investigating ATM blasts) is to analyze the previous investigation, search and prevention approaches and to set new standards. "BEGAS does not investigate itself, but the special commission checks whether what we are doing is good enough, where we can improve, what we need to change. The Soko turns everything upside down to find the best, most powerful answer to the to give ATM bombers," said Reul. In addition, at the end of February there was a "bank summit" in the Ministry of the Interior, at which the financial institutions, together with the police, took measures to assess the risk of the approximately 11,000 ATMs in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The state government was unable to provide reliable nationwide figures on the dismantling of ATMs or the nationality of the perpetrators. However, the information provided by the individual public prosecutors shows that most of the automatic demolitions are probably the work of gangs or individual perpetrators from the Netherlands. According to the chief public prosecutor in Cologne, 23 investigations against 41 named suspects have been and are being conducted since the beginning of 2020, more than half (24) of whom are Dutch nationals.