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CRIME

Solar panel thieves focus on rural roofs

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.

Solar panel thieves focus on rural roofs
Photo:DPA

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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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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