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Solar panel thieves focus on rural roofs

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Solar panel thieves focus on rural roofs
Photo:DPA
11:34 CEST+02:00
Organised gangs of thieves have become so expert in removing solar panels from rural roofs that the police force in Lower Saxony has formed a special task force to fight it.

Last year a series of 30 solar panel thefts were registered in the Emsland region, causing losses of several hundred thousand euros, Der Spiegel reported this weekend.

In particular a series of thefts were noted along the A31 motorway, where many chicken production facilities have sublet their roof space for solar panels, sharing in the profit created when electricity is sold to the grid.

“The facilities are easy to reach, but at the same time remote enough that the thieves are not disturbed while they work,” Lingen police spokesperson Achim van Remmerden said.

Two officers in the Emsland region are working full-time on the thefts.

Up to 30 solar modules are stolen each night. “That is as many as one can fit into a small truck,” said van Remmerden.

The thefts are cleverly orchestrated and the panels are always removed with what appears to be expert knowledge, he added.

Three men were arrested early in September, accused of stealing around 250 solar panels worth €200,000 from the Ruhr region. They attempted to sell the stolen modules online.

The solar energy promotion association in Germany has recommended that solar panels be stamped with a unique number, and runs a register of numbers and owners. The association recommends that buyers be on the lookout for suspicious products.

“If the modules are, for example, no longer properly packed, one should be a little sceptical and inform oneself via the internet,” association spokesperson Petra Hörstmann-Jungemann said.

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