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Deutsche Bahn hopes DNA will curb metal theft

Deutsche Bahn is spraying so-called “artificial DNA” on its tracks, as well as overhead wires and other metallic surfaces thieves might try to steal and sell later on the black market.

Deutsche Bahn hopes DNA will curb metal theft
Photo: DPA

According to Susanne Kufeld, a corporate security administrator for the company, several hundred kilometres of track in North Rhine-Westphalia and eastern Germany have already been marked with the substance.

The substance leaves markings on thieves’ hands and clothing that can be seen under ultraviolet light, making it easier for police to identify them when caught. It also makes metal more difficult to sell because it’s easy for buyers to determine if it’s stolen.

“It makes it easier for us to recognise tools, offenders and stolen heavy metals,” said Jörg Schulz, head of the Federal Police’s Leipzig division.

As commodity prices have surged in recent years, metal thieves have become more brazen, causing Deutsche Bahn a loss of €10 million in 2010 alone.

In first nine months of this year, thefts in eastern areas such as Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia more than doubled compared to the same time period last year. Nationwide, thefts have doubled, according to the Bahn.

Although Deutsche Bahn only started the DNA marking this year, the substance has already become a relatively way common way for government and property owners to protect their things from thieves. Frankfurt (Oder) near Germany’s border with Poland is running a pilot programme, providing the DNA to auto owners to mark their property.

In some countries there have already been convictions. In Britain, a 24-year-old was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison earlier this month for stealing lead from a market after the metal was identified as having artificial DNA markings under ultraviolet light.

The Local/DPA/DAPD/mdm

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CRIME

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

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