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BERLIN (AP) — German police detained 42 people as part of a crackdown on gangs suspected of blowing up cash machines, authorities said Friday.

Incidents in which thieves blow up ATMs and then make off with the cash, usually during the night, have become increasingly common in Germany in recent years. There were a record 496 cases last year, a 27% increase over 2021, according to the Interior Ministry.

Over the past three days, police in seven of Germany’s 16 states conducted searches on more than 5,300 vehicles and 8,000 people, the ministry said in a statement. It said 42 people were detained, but didn’t specify what they are accused of.

The aim was to raise the pressure on perpetrators active across regional and international borders, the ministry said.

“Anyone who blows up cash machines risks the life of people who aren’t involved,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.

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She added that further incidents can be foiled only by effective and wide-ranging preventative measures, including increased video surveillance, systems that dye stolen banknotes and reducing cash stocks at individual sites.

In many cases, cash machines in bank foyers are now closed to customers overnight.

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