The 28-year-old, whose name was not released, was found guilty of setting 102 vehicles alight in July and August 2011 out of frustration and social envy, the court said in a statement.
A judge at the regional court said that the man's “excessive need for recognition” had sparked fear across the whole of the city and even put human lives in danger, as on certain occasions flames from a burning vehicle would lick at nearby buildings.
In one instance, an old people's home in the Charlottenburg district of the city had to be evacuated.
The unemployed man told the court how he felt that “those with more money should feel fear too.” The prosecution applied for him to be jailed for eight years, but the judge settled on seven years.
In Germany, arsonists can face anything between one and 15 years in prison. The suspect, who admitted to setting up to 12 cars on fire in a single night, would have received a ten year sentence if he had not have pleaded guilty when he first appeared in court in October last year.
After assessing the burnt vehicles, a surveyor concluded that the 28-year-old was completely to blame and that “he wanted to play first violin in the arsonist orchestra.”
Investigators managed to track the man down after they spotted him on CCTV footage at a metro station near to where he had set fire to a vehicle moments earlier.
By the time of his arrest, he had stopped the arson attacks after finding a job in a restaurant kitchen so often worked at night.