Plofkraken and the closing of ATMs at night in the Netherlands

The term ‘plofkraak’ and it’s plural form ‘plofkraken’ is a combination of the words ‘plof’ which means explosion and ‘kraak’ which means ‘break-in’ or ‘robbery’.

Plofkraak/Plofkraken is the term used for an increasingly common form of ATM robbery whereby explosives are used to get to the money stored in the machine.

One shouldn’t confuse this with another common Dutch term, ‘plofkip’. Which oddly enough, doesn’t involve exploding chickens. It means battery farmed kip.

Dutch always makes perfect sense when translated to English

How many plofkraken are carried out in the Netherlands per year?

total number of plofkraken in the Netherlands


While the number of plofkraken has actually fallen in recent years, the damage caused by them has increased. Criminals have moved from using crude firework bombs to more sophisticated explosives to get to the money in the ATM’s. This type of robbery is extremely attractive as ATMs typically hold anything between 37,000 to 100,000 Euros cash.

As many ATMs are situated below or close to residential housing, the risks to people living near ATMs has led to banks taking the drastic action of closing all ATMs in the Netherlands between 23:00 and 07:00. The ATMs will be sealed off, thus preventing criminals from attaching explosives to the machine and causing huge amounts of damage to property and people who live nearby.

photo of a plofkraak

Damage caused by a plofkraak attempt in Utrecht copyright


Is closing all ATMs in the Netherlands at night a reasonable solution?

According to the Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken (NVB), only 2% of ATM transactions in the Netherlands take place at night. So closing them won’t have much of an impact on most people. However, while that might be true for villages and small towns, what about places such as Amsterdam where a lot of places open at night only accept cash or pin payments?

  • What about all the kut tourists?
  • Surely this will cause issues for many of the cafes and bars that make a living from tourism?
  • What about the hard-working ladies in the red-light districts?

Isn’t closing all ATMs in the country a bit of a drastic solution to the plofkraak problem?

If we apply the same logic to other crimes, then why not simply close all bank branches in the Netherlands? After all, bank robberies only take place during bank opening hours. So if you close all branch offices of banks permanently, problem solved, no more bank robberies ever!

I also hate to be the one asking an obvious question but….., what’s to stop ATM robbers adjusting their working hours and setting off explosions at 22.30 pm instead?

Do you agree with this allegedly temporary solution of closing all ATM’s at night? Join the discussion in the Shallow Man Facebook Group.

No tourists were hurt during the writing of this post.