Our colleagues at RTL.lu spoke to the German police about the methods and background of the popular ATM robberies in Germany and its neighbouring countries.

At around 4 am on Tuesday, an ATM on the high street of Daleiden, a German town not far from the Luxembourgish border, was broken into. According to the witnesses, all you could hear were a couple of bangs.

The Luxembourgish police was also informed of the robbery and dispatched a patrol to take part in the joint hunt.

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© Domingos Oliveira / RTL

This format has become a classic, with gangs regularly blowing up ATMs in Germany and neighbouring countries, says Marco Ellermann of the Osnabrück police, which is part of the investigation team in Germany.

How do they do it?

You could call it a 'modern bank robbery': back in the day, people used to go into the bank with a gun, today they blow up cash machines. There are usually three perpetrators, and after five minutes they run off again and flee from the police in fast cars. Some of these chases are so dangerous that they need to be called off so they don't end in accidents, says Ellermann.

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© Polizei Osnabrück

Until 2020, the perpetrators mainly used gas to blow up the machines, but now real explosives are used in around two thirds of the cases. As a result, six-figure sums are regularly stolen.

Who are the perpetrators?

Most of the perpetrators come from the Netherlands, and often are young men aged between 18 and 25 who have specialised in blowing up ATMs.

According to Ellermann, they take advantage of the open borders and the high number of ATMs - after all, there are around 50,000 of them in Germany. Almost 500 were blown up in Germany in 2022 alone.

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© Polizei Osnabrück

How can we prevent such crimes from happening?

On the one hand, the banks need to secure their machines and make it impossible to blow them up. There are also ways to make the notes unusable during a robbery, for example by discolouring them.

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© Polizei Osnabrück

In addition, investigations need to continue and go beyond borders: "If you want to get a grip on organised crime, you have to exchange information - which has been the case in a number of investigations. We therefore need to work closely with the Belgian and Luxembourg police as well as other countries."

A number of ATMs have also been blown up in Luxembourg in recent years:

2018: Post Niederanven; BIL Heiderscheid; BGL Hosingen
2019: BCEE Wincrange; CRR Remich; Post Mersch
2020: CRR Weiswampach; BIL Grevenmacher; BGL Pommerloch; CRR Wormeldange
2021: CRR Wincrange; Post Bascharage
2022: BGL BNP Bascharage; Post Esch-Sauer