Train ticket machine attacks ‘the work of pros’

Around 75 train ticket machines have been blown up across Germany over the last few months. The Frankfurt region has been particularly badly hit with the latest explosion rocking a station on Wednesday.

Train ticket machine attacks 'the work of pros'
Photo: DPA

The method favoured by the ticket machine gangsters is to tape up all the machine’s openings, fill it with gas, and set it alight.

The latest attack was on the platform of Hesse train station Butzbach Kirch-Göns which was showered with large pieces of the machine on Wednesday. It was the 25th machine in the state to suffer damage this year due to the trend.

RELATED PHOTO GALLERY: Shots of a blown-up ticket machine

The same happened to another ticket machine in Frankfurt Eschersheim on Tuesday. Police said a total of 75 machines have been hit across the country. So far, there have been no injuries, but detectives warn that the culprits are risking their lives.

It seems, the Frankfurter Rundschau regional newspaper reported, that the culprits are after the money inside despite most machines containing at most several hundred euros. Yet each attack causes between €20,000 to €30,000 in damage.

“You need experience for something like this,” said spokesman Udo Bühler from the Hesse state office for criminal investigation on Wednesday. “If an amateur were to have a go he could really injure himself by using the wrong gas mix, or too much of it.”

Police were reluctant to speak of ticket machine serial attackers, Bühler told the Frankfurter Rundschau. He said they had been trying to track down suspects since the attacks began at the beginning of the year.

Hesse police issued a warning in May that culprits had been attempting to blow up the – predominantly Deutsche Bahn – machines. They have advised passengers to remain alert, and to immediately report ticket machines they find taped up – and get away from them.

Even if culprits have not set off an explosion, a ticket machine full of gas could easily explode from the electric system used to power the printing system.

Deutsche Bahn said recently it planned on installing CCTV cameras to track down, or deter, suspects.

DPA/The Local/jcw

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.