Dutch ATM robbers increasingly targeting machines far across the border
Dutch robbers are increasingly targeting ATMs far across the border. This is what Marc Wösten, an expert in the national forensic coordination team of explosion attacks. "In addition to ecstasy, the ATM robbers can also be added to the list of Dutch export products such as cheese and tulips," warns Wösten.
Gangs that specialize in explosion attacks - the groups often come from the Utrecht and Amsterdam region - don't just blow up ATMs just across the border in Germany. Criminals are also willing to drive hundreds of miles to steal money in Luxembourg or an Alpine country, for example.
It is significant that Dutch criminals were most likely involved in all 180 explosions that ravaged North Rhine-Westphalia last year, the German state that borders the Netherlands. The fact that criminals are increasingly eyeing ATMs abroad has to do with tightened security measures domestically. Wösten explains that among European countries, the Netherlands has one of the most stringent security systems for ATMs. "In Germany, for example, ATMs are often still easy to crack, as if they were biscuit tins. National policy is more difficult to get off the ground there than in the Netherlands. German states each have their own legislation."
The police are concerned about the 'increasingly heavier' explosives that criminals use, including in the Netherlands. Wösten says that "banks are increasingly securing ATMs. That's why criminals make heavier explosives. It's a game of cat and mouse between police and criminals.
A few years ago, the explosive charge of explosives weighed up to one kilo, now we encounter bombs of more than two kilos, the size of almost a pavement tile. Such an explosive can completely destroy safes. Sometimes fragments are almost 200 meters away from a blown up ATM."
Sometimes, criminals don't shy away from detonating an explosive twice during a single crack. One case is intended to give them access to, for example, an ATM room; the other explosive is designated to blow up the actual machine. For instance, criminals used this method in Hilversum at the end of last year, Wösten explains.
Explosive squatters often put local residents' and passers-by's lives in danger, says the police expert. "During an explosive attack in Amsterdam, to the shock of parents, pieces of metal flew through a nursery. Fortunately, the residents were then unharmed. In another explosion, shards hit a passer-by in the face."
Increase in explosive raids
In recent years, the Explosives Clearance Service Defense (EODD) has been increasingly busy finding or dismantling explosives that criminals use in explosive raids. This signals adjutant André, EOD expert in that field, who does not want his last name to be stated for security reasons. The military experts are also increasingly coming out after reports of grenades being used as a threat. "For example, criminals hang it on the door of a coffee shop."
In 2020, the EODD had to respond to 237 reports of explosives used by criminals. In 2019, this involved 216 reports. Unlike in earlier years, these days, these are in most cases serious, notes the EOD expert. "Nowadays, only about 3 percent of those reports are counterfeit bombs or false alarms. Fifteen years ago, false alarms were much more common. "
The EODD is concerned about bombs that criminals can assemble themselves. In the last few years, roughly three-quarters of explosives have been made by criminals themselves. They use fertilizer, flash powder (a mixture that is used in fireworks), and the explosive material TATP.
The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) sees a significant increase in the number of homemade high-explosives, national newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported this week. Last year, 31 cases were brought to the NFI by the police and the Public Prosecution Service involving bombs made by criminals themselves, almost three times higher than a year earlier.
Fireworks bombs can wreak unprecedented havoc, the EOD expert warns. "We are trying to get the judiciary in the mind that fireworks can make life-threatening bombs. During a demonstration, we detonated sixteen cobras (heavy fireworks, JV) under a car. The car was torn apart, the hood was 100 meters away."