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Top cop: don't park fancy ride in Kreuzberg

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Top cop: don't park fancy ride in Kreuzberg
A torched Mercedes Benz in Kreuzberg in May, 2007. Photo: DPA
18:12 CEST+02:00
Berlin police chief Dieter Glietsch has sparked a storm of criticism by warning the owners of fancy cars not to park overnight in the city's Kreuzberg district after a rash of auto arson.

Glietsch, 61, gave an interview to the taz newspaper last Friday, in which he said he wouldn't recommend Porsche drivers park in Kreuzberg.

In the last year, dozens of luxury cars have been set alight in the traditionally left-wing district - Mercedes and BMW's among the favourites.

Over the weekend politicians called Glietsch's statement a "declaration of bankruptcy," and secretary general for the Christian Democrats in Berlin, Frank Henkel, called it a "capitulation" to the left-wing extremists, according to Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel on Monday.

Berlin doesn't have any so-called "no-go areas," but the police have managed "no-drive areas," Free Democratic Party (FDP) party spokesman for Berlin parliament interior issues Björn Jotzo told the paper.

Klaus Schubert, spokesperson for the Berlin police department told The Local on Monday that in light of the some 113 fire attacks in the last year, which damaged a total of 129 cars, Glietsch's comment was purely practical.

"The statement was simply a reference to the situation," Schubert said. "The police are doing all they can, but you wouldn't put something precious on a street where you know this happens."

But some have said that the problem is due to a lack of police personnel in the area. The GdP police union said the comment was symptomatic of a "dramatic personnel reduction," rather than a failure to act, Der Tagesspiegel reported.

Police spokesperson Schubert told The Local there is adequate police coverage in the area and that it is more important to get to the political motivation behind the attacks.

"The police chief does not think it's necessary to put more officers in," he said. "These attacks happen quickly and it's easy to flee undetected, so it doesn't matter how many police are there if they aren't on the scene at the moment it happens."

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