Masked men break into a bank at night, blow up an ATM and leave the building with sacks full of cash - what sounds like a scene from a crime thriller is now an everyday problem in Germany. With increased prevention, that is now set to change.
According to the will of the Conference of Interior Ministers (IMK), the operators of ATMs should in future be obliged to protect their cash holdings from being blown up. In view of the sharp increase in the number of cases, according to Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, the pressure on the internationally active groups of criminals should also be increased. The CSU politician is currently chairman of the conference of interior ministers.
"The number of ATM blasts has skyrocketed this year," emphasized Herrmann, with a view to the upcoming IMK autumn conference in Munich next week. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, around 800 ATMs were blown up across Germany in 2020 and 2021. (2020: 414; 2021: 392). These are the highest number of cases that have been registered since the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) began collecting statistics in 2005.
The provisional number of cases available for the first half of 2022 led us to expect a new high for the year. "We have to take this development very seriously. The highly professional criminal gangs not only cause great economic damage," emphasized Herrmann. It is also particularly problematic that the blasting is accompanied by a reckless endangerment of uninvolved third parties, residents and emergency services.
"We must therefore consistently put these unscrupulous criminal gangs and their backers behind bars." According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the current development in Germany is being accelerated by a displacement effect from the Netherlands. Extensive preventive measures against such explosions have already been implemented there.
Almost two thirds of the suspects registered by the BKA in 2020 and 2021 come from the Netherlands. At the beginning of November, Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser from the SPD had already invited to a nationwide "round table on ATM blasting". The state interior ministers now want to build on the declaration made there in Munich.
Close cooperation between investigators, both nationwide and with our European neighbors, is important for a trend reversal in this country, too, says Herrmann. "In addition, it will also be about increased prevention. For example, the locations and the machines themselves must be better secured. Here the banks and machine manufacturers are responsible for making it as difficult as possible for the criminals, among other things with technical equipment, which render the banknotes unusable."
Then a demolition is no longer worthwhile for the perpetrators. In Bavaria, the development is also dramatic, said Herrmann. With 32 blasts (as of November 23, 2022), a record level has already been reached in Bavaria (2020: 24, 2021: 17 blasts). Therefore, at the invitation of the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office, a first round of talks with bank representatives took place in July.