Banks, Geldmaat, authorities and police join forces to fight ATM raiders

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With criminals employing ever heavier explosives to raid cashpoints, Dutch banks, ATM operator Geldmaat, government authorities and the police are taking new measures to stop them.

The banks and Geldmaat have decided to disable their ATMs overnight, effective immediately. Wherever possible, they will also move any cashpoints that pose an elevated risk to nearby residents and place them in safer locations. Every effort will be made to ensure that cash remains easily accessible and available.

The banks, Geldmaat, De Nederlandsche Bank and the police are also stepping up their efforts to find new and effective ways to render banknotes useless if they are stolen by raiders, and deprive the criminals of their loot. They hope to apply this measure as soon as possible.

“Cashpoint raiding undermines society,” explains Chris Buijink, President of the Dutch Banking Association. “We can’t just stand by and watch as explosives go off somewhere in the country every few days, particularly near people’s homes. That’s why I’m so pleased with today’s decision, with Ministers Grapperhaus and Hoekstra and all the relevant public authorities and private organisations, to form a united front against this disruptive criminal activity.” The authorities will continue their focus on investigating these crimes, while the banks, Geldmaat, the police and the criminal justice authorities will step up their public-private cooperation. The various efforts will be overseen by the existing robberies taskforce.

ATMs to be disabled at night

All outside cashpoints operated by the country’s banks and Geldmaat will now be disabled between 11 pm and 7 am, while their security features will remain activated. This measure will go into effect at 11 pm on Monday, 16 December.

At some ATMs, it’s possible to deposit loose banknotes, a feature that will now also be disabled at night. Commercial clients can continue to deposit ‘seal bags’ as normal: their security boxes will remain open during the same hours as before.

Disabling cashpoints at night should have very little impact on the access to and availability of cash: less than 2 per cent of all cash withdrawals from outside cashpoints are made at night. Although this measure might inconvenience a few people, safety is paramount. The ATMs in question will still be open during the daytime and until 11 pm, every day of the week, for withdrawals and deposits.

New locations for ATMs

Besides causing devastating damage to the surroundings, ATM raids also jeopardise the safety of nearby residents. To reduce these risks, the banks and Geldmaat will consult with the parties affected, including municipal authorities, the police, shop owners, building managers and residents, about moving some cashpoints to safer locations. This will mostly affect cashpoints situated in the immediate vicinity of homes. Some may be removed entirely, if they pose too much risk; however, this will only happen if it does not diminish the accessibility and availability of cash.

Criminal investigation and prosecution to continue as before

Over 70 people have been arrested so far this year in connection with cashpoint raiding. The investigations of these crimes are coordinated at the national level, and carried out by special ATM Raids Units, which can be on scene at short notice. These units also work with international partners to track down groups of criminals and bring them to justice. This approach enhances the ability of the police and the Dutch public prosecutor to respond quickly and catch criminals in the act. The banks and Geldmaat share whatever information they need for this.

Rendering banknotes permanently useless

Since criminals raid cashpoints to steal banknotes, they should be given as little opportunity as possible to make off with any loot. At the request of the banks, Geldmaat, the Dutch central bank and the police, tests are being conducted to identify ways to render banknotes useless if the cashpoint containing them is raided, leaving the criminals empty-handed. Once a suitable method has been found, it will be installed in cashpoints as soon as possible.

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