condom machine explosion
Photos from the scene show the badly-damaged outdoor condom machine blown open with dozens of condoms on the ground nearby. Nordrhein-Westfale police handout

A German man was killed on Christmas Day when a chunk of metal hit him in the head during a bungled attempt to steal from a condom machine. The unnamed 29-year-old man and at least two accomplices are thought to have used explosives in an attempt to breach the machine's defences.

The robbery went wrong when the explosion sent shrapnel flying through the air, with one piece of metal striking the victim as he attempted to take cover. The man's accomplices took him to a hospital in Schoeppingen, close to the border with the Netherlands, but he died on Christmas Day.

The men initially tried to explain their friend's injuries by claiming he had fallen down the stairs. Police grew suspicious, however, and one of the men revealed what actually happened following questioning. All three of the would-be robbers are believed to have lived locally.

A resident heard the explosion and informed police who raced to the scene, Russia Today reported. Officers say by the time they arrived the men had already fled the scene in a car, leaving behind condoms, money and scattered debris from the explosion.

Investigators say the bizarre accident most likely occurred because the dead man bungled his role in the robbery operation. After lining the inside of the condom machine with explosives, he is believed to have forgotten to close its door, leaving him exposed to the flying debris.

Photos from the scene show the badly-damaged outdoor machine blown open with dozens of condoms on the ground nearby. The lump of metal appears to have from a hinge on the machine, which was located at the side of a main road.

The dead man's two accomplices are understood to have been arrested following the incident but later released from custody. It is not known what charges, if any, they will face.