Rising Threat: Swiss ATM Bombings Surge Amidst Organized Crime Wave

Rising Threat: Swiss ATM Bombings Surge Amidst Organized Crime Wave

Thomas Schmidt
2 min read

Another ATM Bombing in Swiss Town Wattenwil: Swiss ATM Bombing on the Rise

In the early hours of Wednesday, an ATM was blown up in the town of Wattenwil, BE im Gürbetal, Switzerland. This incident adds to the growing trend of ATM bombings in the country. The Bernese cantonal police confirmed the explosion, which likely targeted a Postomat, although details about the perpetrators, injuries, or damage are still unclear.

ATM bombings have become a significant issue in Switzerland in recent years, with foreign criminal gangs primarily from Romania and the Netherlands orchestrating these attacks. These gangs typically target small towns and villages near borders, swiftly blowing up ATMs and fleeing with large sums of money. The number of ATM bombings rose from 18 in 2018 to 57 in 2022, slightly decreasing to 32 in 2023, yet remaining a major concern with 15 attacks already recorded in 2023.

Key Takeaways

  • ATM bombings in Switzerland have escalated, with foreign gangs primarily from Romania and the Netherlands targeting cash machines in small towns and border villages.
  • The number of ATM attacks surged from 18 in 2018 to 57 in 2022, with 32 incidents in 2023, and 15 so far in 2024.
  • The attacks are highly organized, involving teams of 3-4 individuals using explosives, gas, and even physical force to access cash.
  • Swiss authorities are working with European law enforcement to combat this issue, resulting in some arrests and increased security measures at ATMs.


ATM bombings in Switzerland are driven by organized criminal networks exploiting the country's wealth and strategic location. The gangs, often comprising Romanian and Dutch nationals, execute these attacks with precision, using stolen vehicles and false plates. The rapid execution of these crimes, typically completed within 4-5 minutes, makes them difficult to thwart.

The rise in ATM bombings can be attributed to the increasing desperation and sophistication of these criminal gangs. They have adapted to security measures by Swiss banks, continually finding new methods to breach ATMs. The deployment of explosives is particularly concerning due to the associated risks to nearby residents and property.

Swiss authorities, in collaboration with their European counterparts, have made progress in apprehending some of these criminals. In 2023 alone, 137 Dutch suspects were arrested for ATM robberies, mostly in Germany. Despite these efforts, the attacks persist, necessitating ongoing vigilance and innovation in security measures.

The Swiss Federal Office of Police (fedpol) has adopted a three-pronged strategy: enforcement, cooperation, and prevention. This involves working closely with cantonal police, public prosecutors, and financial institutions to enhance ATM security. Measures such as ink dye systems, which render stolen banknotes useless, have been implemented. However, no single solution has proven entirely effective, and tailored risk assessments for individual ATMs are essential.

Did You Know?

  • ATM bombings are not just a Swiss issue but a European one, with significant activity in Germany and the Netherlands as well.
  • The use of e-scooters and e-motorbikes by criminals complicates police pursuits, as these vehicles can navigate through areas inaccessible to cars.
  • Swiss authorities have recorded injuries from these attacks, including a bystander thrown to the ground by an explosion, though severe injuries have been avoided so far.
  • Preventive measures such as ink dye systems are becoming more common, but the effectiveness varies based on the location and existing protections of the ATMs.

The persistence of ATM bombings in Switzerland highlights the need for continuous adaptation in security strategies to stay ahead of these sophisticated criminal networks.

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