Why is Switzerland a hotspot for ATM robberies?

Why is Switzerland a hotspot for ATM robberies?

A new report by the Swiss police has revealed that the number of ATM thefts and robberies reached a new high in 2022. The Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) told 20 Minuten that Switzerland is a “worthwhile” target because of its good connections and dense network of cash machines which can be easily exploited by groups based overseas.

One ATM robbery a week in Switzerland in 2022

According to the report, 56 ATMs were attacked in Switzerland in 2022 - the equivalent of more than one incident a week. Of the 56, 44 were considered to be coordinated attacks which involved the perpetrators using either gas or explosives to try and pry open the machines. 

While a majority of incidents were recorded in the border regions around Basel and Geneva, some of the more high-profile cases involved robberies deep in Canton Zurich and Bern. 20 Minuten noted that when the incidents are mapped, the majority of the ATMs affected are in northwestern Switzerland or within easy reach of a motorway - central and eastern Switzerland has largely been spared the attacks.

Why is Switzerland a target for ATM theft?

Fedpol spokesperson Berina Repesa told the newspaper that organised groups from abroad - especially France - are mainly responsible for the crime. She explained that criminal groups of around three to four people carry out the attack and then try to leave the country as soon as possible to avoid capture. "For the escape, they often use several vehicles, some of which are stolen, with false licence plates or no licence plates at all," she added.

The emergency services added that the speed and scale of the crime often mean that gang members act unscrupulously, citing an incident in Münchenstein which saw a man left tied up after he surprised the criminals. With most gangs using explosives in built-up areas, Repesa concluded that "it shows that they don't shy away from anything."

Swiss banks to take measures to protect ATMs

In concluding their statement, Fedpol advised banks in Switzerland to take steps in order to prevent ATM thefts. Among other measures, Repesa suggested that “adhesive cartridges work particularly well…We have had good experiences with this in the Netherlands. In addition, it is advisable to shut down remote ATMs.”

Thumb image credit: / Alexander Chaikin

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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