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Another car arsonist arrested in Berlin

The Local · 7 Sep 2011, 12:41

Published: 07 Sep 2011 12:41 GMT+02:00

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The police arrested a 28-year-old man in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin on Wednesday morning, where he was caught near two burning motorcycles. A nearby car was also damaged by the fire.

Police said the suspect was known to them, though not as an arsonist, and that there was no indication of a political motive. The man has so far not been charged.

Meanwhile, the arson attacks continued sporadically throughout Tuesday night in Berlin. Unknown people set fire to a car in the Spandau district of Berlin, a car and a truck in Neukölln, and a moped in the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district. In Neukölln, passers-by prevented greater damage to other cars by putting out the flames.

For the last two weeks, Berlin police have been supported in their investigations by their federal counterparts. Around 500 officers working on the investigation were on duty during the night. The federal operation, which includes helicopter support, is costing the Berlin tax-payer €250,000 per week.

Police estimate that around half of the 540 arson attacks reported this year are down to left-wing extremists, while the rest are thought to be the work of copycats and insurance fraudsters.

The arsonists have proven to be both very difficult to catch or to conclusively link to individual attacks. Police say they often use BBQ fire-lighters to start the blazes, and are well out of sight by the time the car is in flames. The few court cases have mainly ended in acquittals or suspended sentences.

A couple arrested in August has confessed to some attacks, but are not considered to be politically motivated.

The attacks have since become a major issue in Berlin’s mayoral election campaign, with the opposition blaming the attacks on Mayor Klaus Wowereit’s decision to cut police numbers in the past few years. Wowereit, of the centre-left Social Democratic Party, is currently well ahead in the opinion polls. The election takes place on September 18.

Story continues below…

DAPD/The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:41 September 7, 2011 by wood artist
I'm intrigued. If the couple they arrested confessed to some of the crimes, but they weren't politically motivated, exactly what WAS their motivation?

I know some people just really like to watch things burn, but they seemed awfully selective about the brands and models they chose to burn.

Now, however, I'm also intrigued that somebody would burn a moped. That won't make much of a fire, and it's really hard to believe that's a politically motivate crime. This whole thing just gets stranger and stranger.

17:56 September 7, 2011 by Talonx
@ WA

The politically motivated attacks usually are quite selective, expensive luxury cars are usually the number one target. The moped is disconcerting.

I bet though, we are seeing something somewhat similar to what's going in in the U.K. and the rest of the world. Disenfranchised apolitical children who don't feel they have much of a future lashing out.
18:43 September 7, 2011 by neunElf
When you allow a city to become defaced and defiled as Berlin has become, you create an environment and attitude which ever stretches the bounds of civil behavior, until anarchy begins to reign.
21:50 September 7, 2011 by catjones
The two motorcycles were police motorcycles and the police happened to be on them at the time.
21:59 September 7, 2011 by 9900lawre
Related to the latest article about cleanest air in europe (well done Berlin). If you burn a diesel car the particlart filter will simply go into overtime and clean 20% more air than burning a petrol car. FACT!!!
06:36 September 8, 2011 by Talonx
@ neuenElf

The 'broken windows theory' which you are referring to has been discredited as poor science for some time now. The only folks you will find espousing it are politicians that wish to prey on those who don't bother to scratch the surface of any political argumentation.
07:20 September 8, 2011 by rfwilson
@ 9900lawre

Rubbish! The particulate filter in a diesel car is part of the exhaust system. If the car is on fire, how do you expect the smoke to get into the exhaust system to be treated by the particulate filter, especially since the car was parked and the motor was not running when the fire was set?
09:46 September 8, 2011 by peeboy
Arsonists need to think of a more ecofriendly way of buring cars to keep the Berlin air less polluted.
10:29 September 8, 2011 by devashish.bansal
Its definitely political!

That's the reason these attacks got intense as election is approaching, and you will see them over after september 18 when the politician who is managing this artwork wins!
14:37 September 8, 2011 by Talonx
@ Devashish.Bansai

I agree, I'm just saying that the jump in number and the targeting of non-luxury cars as well, probably points to an additional demographics involvement, one that didn't seem to exist before.

More specifically, though the burning of luxury cars and police bikes is easily the work of a politically motivated group...

The burning of mpeds and Audis is mostly the work of some other demographic, I would say poor kids in their middle-early teens lashing out.
23:15 September 8, 2011 by Dizz
@9900 lawre & rfwilson

one of you is being ironic but who?
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