Europe

Security guards to protect Dutch ATMs from explosion thefts

back of policeman in foreground, exploded ATM unit in background Image copyright PA
Image caption ATM explosion thefts are not unique to the Netherlands - this one was in Northern Ireland

A bank in the Netherlands is employing security guards to protect its ATMs from being blown up by thieves.

Rabobank said it was taking the measure to protect the buildings above the cashpoints, many of which are apartment blocks that house people.

Last year 79 ATMs were blown up in the Netherlands, and criminals around the world have turned to forcing ATMs open with explosives and sometimes vehicles.

Rabobank did not say how many guards it would employ.

Last month, residents of 16 houses had to leave their homes in one morning while bomb disposal experts made two separate ATMs safe.

The incidents happened in the Dutch village of Zevenhoven and city of Doetinchem. In both cases, the perpetrators had left explosive materials behind.

The bank acknowledged that hiring security guards was a major cost.

But spokeswoman Margo van Wijgerden told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper (in Dutch): "Safety comes first."

They would pay particular attention to ATMs on buildings that were used as homes, she said.

Not all of the bank's 2,000 ATMs will be guarded, with some getting increased patrols instead.

Rabobank has closed more than 30 ATMs, in part because of the damage potential attacks could cause the buildings they are in. It has also already taken the measure of closing some ATMs between 1am and 6am.

Another Dutch bank, ING, was said to be considering additional security measures against such attacks. Last year it closed 100 ATMs.

Last month, a Rabobank spokesman told media that most criminals went home empty-handed, sometimes because the explosions they caused destroyed the money they were trying to steal. But the damage to buildings could run to millions of euros, he said.

In 2014, Australian police released footage of an ATM blowing up in a would-be thief's face.

Last month a gang of ATM robbers was convicted in England after a spate of robberies by explosion. Prosecutor Maria Corr said the men "thought nothing of using powerful explosives to blow up cash machines in residential areas, putting nearby residents in real danger".

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