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Cops outfoxed by wily horn thieves

A gang of four has carried out an "unbelievably audacious" theft of rhino horns worth €50,000, German police said Tuesday, the latest in what appears to be a spate of similar robberies.

Cops outfoxed by wily horn thieves
Photo: DPA

As two of the suspected thieves distracted staff at a museum in Offenburg, southwestern Germany, the other two clambered on a display case, removed a rhino head from a wall and smashed off the horns with hammers, police said.

“Then everything happened in the blink of an eye,” police said in a statement.

“The two men stuffed the horns into a bag and left the museum. At the same time, the other two lost interest in their chat with staff members and followed their accomplices,” the statement added.

The rhino head was left behind during the suspected robbery, which happened on Saturday afternoon, according to authorities.

Rhinoceros horn is especially prized in Asia where many consider it to have aphrodisiac and disease-fighting properties.

The perpetrators “acted with unbelievable audacity,” the police said, adding: “The way they carried it out leads one to believe that this is an international, well-organised group.”

Similar thefts have occurred throughout Europe, with some museums taking the unusual step of replacing their rhino horns with fake ones to deter robberies.

Rhino horns can fetch between €25,000 and €200,000 ($33,000 and $265,000) depending on their size.

AFP/bk

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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