Thieves steal thousands of blank passports in Berlin

Thousands of blank travel documents, stamps and official seals from the offices of four Berlin district administrative offices have been stolen, daily Der Tagesspiegel reported this week.

Thieves steal thousands of blank passports in Berlin

The thieves broke in to three buildings over the weekend, trashing the offices of local authorities and stealing blank passports for adults and children, as well as seals and stickers used for creating residence and work permits.

Police have not commented on the robberies, saying they are still under investigation, Der Tagesspiegel reported on Tuesday.

Almost 5,000 visas and residence permits were stolen from a government office in the Moabit neighbourhood on Friday evening.

Then on Sunday, thieves stole temporary passports and official stamps from the Reinickendorf district administration office (Bürgeramt).

The Bürgeramt for the Prenzlauer Berg district sustained an estimated €50,000 in damages when thieves broke through 15 doors and locked cabinets to steal about 100 blank passports, identity cards, child passports and €500 in cash. The culprits then let the fire extinguishers loose on the office, covering all traces of their work and ruining monitors and computers.

The office is closed indefinitely for clean-up, the paper said.

Authorities had already investigating a similar burglary at the Charlottenburg district Bürgeramt on June 29, when labels for foreign passports granting limited residence permits were also stolen.

Police said not all of the offices were equipped with alarms.

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Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

READ ALSO: The German rules of the road that are hard to get your head around

In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners