The investigations began in February 2020. A 29-year-old had ordered ATMs from a company in the Osnabrück area in the Netherlands – on the pretext of wanting to use them artistically. The police and public prosecutor in Osnabrück recognized a possible connection to ATM explosions and investigated the case. The ATM was delivered to the man who, along with a 24-year-old suspect, used it to train how to detonate ATMs.
Center for training ATM demolitions
Since the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office was primarily investigating in the Netherlands, the two countries formed a joint investigation team with the participation of Eurojust and Europol. The officers found that the perpetrator groups had set up a training center in Utrecht. According to the Osnabrück police, they trained there to blow up the various ATMs. They bought the machines for this in Germany.
Organized crime groups
The authorities also gained insight into the structure and composition of the perpetrator groups with their personal and hierarchical connections. They revealed that the groups communicated with encrypted smartphones and often used highly motorized vehicles for their actions. According to the police in Osnabrück, the observations confirm that these are groups from the area of organized crime.
Damage in the millions
The authorities identified a total of 23 suspects. They are said to have blown up 15 ATMs nationwide in the past year. Among them, two crimes in the county of Bentheim in Itterbeck and Schüttorf are said to be on the account of the perpetrators. The explosions caused considerable damage that, according to the Osnabrück police, runs into the millions. Nine suspects are now in custody. Three of them were arrested during the large-scale searches in the triangle of Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague on Tuesday. You are in custody in the Netherlands and are to be extradited to Germany.
Explosives, money counting machine, blue light confiscated
During the seven searches, the investigators confiscated items such as explosives, a money counting machine, a mobile blue light, more than 20 electronic communication devices, numerous data carriers and storage media. The investigators hope, based on the evidence, to be able to assign further acts to the suspects. In addition, they hope to get clues to clients, backers, structural interdependencies of the criminals as well as clues as to where the prey is.
Investigators get close to organizers and logisticians
The President of the Osnabrück Police Department, Michael Maßmann, spoke of a “sensitive blow against the international ATM sprinkler scene and its criminal machinations”. For the first time, the investigators managed to get to the organizers and logisticians. “We have come a great deal closer to our goal of lightening up and smashing the criminal structures.” The investigators stayed tuned, said Maßmann. At the same time, he called on the banks to generally deprive the perpetrators of the incentives to commit such acts. In addition to intensive prevention and investigation work, this can only succeed if the banks optimize their security precautions and standards across the board. Other states such as the Netherlands have already shown it.
Pistorius praises cross-border cooperation
Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) also emphasized that the ATMs were blown up mainly because of the poor safety precautions in Germany. He suggested introducing improvements either on a voluntary basis or as mandatory by law. In addition, Pistorius praised the successful close cross-border cooperation between the national police authorities. As Lower Saxony’s interior minister and co-chairman of the Europol supervisory body, he will continue to work intensively to ensure that Europol receives more powers and resources. In the medium term, Pistorius is in favor of developing Europol into a kind of European FBI.