Thousands missing over the holidays

More than 5,000 people – and nearly 2,000 children – are registered with authorities as missing nationwide, according to statistics released on Monday.

Thousands missing over the holidays
Photo: DPA

About 50 percent of people who go missing are found within a week and 80 percent within a month. Three percent of people are still missing after a year, the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) said.

Though missing children are of particular concern – about 50,000 are reported as missing each year – in 98 percent of cases they are found quickly.

“Most children are at home again within a few hours, or at most after two weeks,” said Carl Bruhns, head of the Missing Children Initiative, which is dedicated to helping track down missing kids.

Many of those children are runaways, fleeing a difficult family life, problems at school or just seeking adventure. Particularly in the summer, they often end up in Berlin or Frankfurt before finding their way back home, Bruhns said.

But when children go missing for months or years, it becomes much more difficult to track them down. The Missing Children Initiative has a map on its website that shows many of those cases. They’re often frustrating, terrifying and inexplicable for anxious parents.

Bruhns pointed to the mysterious case of Georgine Krüger who in 2006 disappeared while walking a few hundred metres from a Berlin bus stop to her parents’ house.

“The girl disappeared without a trace,” he said.

The Local/DAPD/mdm

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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