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HomeInternationalCash-Loving Germany Faces a Crime Wave: Boom Goes the ATM!

Cash-Loving Germany Faces a Crime Wave: Boom Goes the ATM!

Germany’s fondness for physical currency might be backfiring, as the nation grapples with a surge in crimes specifically targeting ATMs. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has long favored using cash over cards or other forms of electronic payments, but this preference has been exploited by organized crime in recent years.

In the last year, there was a 27% spike in ATM bombings, with 496 ATMs targeted as part of cash-grab heists, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office. These raids have proven profitable for criminals, averaging a cool €100,000 ($110,686.5) per attack. This surge in crime led to €30 million being stolen from ATM bombings last year, a hefty 53% increase from the year prior.

Germany’s commitment to cash, with over half the population preferring physical banknotes to cards or digital payments, has led to more than 55,000 ATMs brimming with high-denomination euros across the country. This provides a unique opportunity for criminals, especially as other European countries are seeing a decline in the number of cash machines.

Although no bystanders have been seriously injured or killed in these bombings, they are far from risk-free endeavors. The criminals themselves often suffer injuries during the explosions, while their getaways, characterized by high-speed chases, come with the risk of fiery crashes – a risk heightened by the fuel canisters they carry for refueling.

Addressing this growing issue has been challenging for German authorities. With over 1,500 lenders in the country and each province leading its own police force, coordinating effective ATM protection and law enforcement standards proves tricky. In contrast, other countries like the Netherlands have adopted protection systems that glue cash together in the event of a raid, a measure Germany has yet to implement due to health and safety concerns.

Moreover, German efforts to strengthen ATMs against certain types of detonations were undermined when the criminals simply switched to different explosives. Despite these challenges, not all is lost. Police groups in some provinces have started analyzing potential escape routes to better prepare for these incidents. Additionally, prosecutors have begun adding attempted murder charges for those captured, given the inherent danger these explosions pose to nearby residents.