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Thieves steal road salt as harsh winter depletes supply

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Thieves steal road salt as harsh winter depletes supply
Photo: DPA
14:36 CET+01:00
The exceptionally harsh winter this year has spurred enterprising criminals in Lower Saxony to steal a tonne of road salt, a police spokesperson told The Local on Monday.

Unknown thieves managed to make off with 40 large sacks of de-icing salt over the weekend in the community of Gittelde in the mountainous Harz region. Police are now asking witnesses to come forward.

“This is the first time this has happened,” a spokesperson from the Osterode county precinct told The Local. “In the last few weeks it's snowed pretty heavily, about 40 centimetres. But it's not nearly as bad is in the Upper Harz.”

The salt was being stored in 25-kilogramme sacks on a pallet by a company contracted to clear a large supermarket parking lot – but the thieves nicked it before winter service vehicles could distribute it.

See photos of winter's icy grip on Germany.

Meanwhile news agency DPA reported that snow blowers have been stolen repeatedly in the region in recent weeks.

Some German municipalities are precariously close to running out of road salt, spurring politicians to propose building a national salt reserve for extreme winters in the future.

On Monday authorities opened a 52-kilometre stretch of the A44 motorway between Erwitte in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and Diemelstadt in northern Hesse. It had been closed after ice caused several accidents and officials couldn't come up with enough road salt to make it passable on Saturday.

Earlier this month salt makers told DPA that by mid-January Germany had already used more than a typical winter requires and supplies were quickly running out.

Fortunately the Osterode spokesperson said their community was still stocked despite the recent theft.

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