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CRIME

Pied petrol-pipers of Hamelin strike

Fuel theft has risen in Germany as the country experiences its highest ever petrol and diesel prices, several police forces reported Friday. One large fuel booty was spirited away in the fairytale town of Hamelin.

Pied petrol-pipers of Hamelin strike
Photo: DPA

According to a number of regional police authorities, more and more thieves are sneaking into car parks at night and siphoning off fuel.

A gang reportedly broke into the tanks of four trucks in the small town of Hamelin on the night of March 31, and stole 1,450 litres of diesel, worth €2,200. The Pied Petrol Pipers of Hamelin took advantage of the dark car park near a remote freight train station on a Saturday night, when all the workers had long gone home.

Since the start of the year, incidents of fuel theft have risen by 11 percent in Lower Saxony, six percent in Bavaria, 25 percent in the northern state of Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania, and a whopping 33 percent in Brandenburg.

The robbers’ main targets are large trucks, whose tanks contain up to 1,000 litres of fuel.

“The perpetrators come with a large van, for example, which has a huge tank built into its back,” said Claws Tohsche, spokesman for Daimler, the large truck builders in the world.

The cap is ripped off by force, or a hole is drilled into the tank. It is then emptied with a small electric pump and a length of tube. Many trucks only have plastic tanks, to cut costs and save weight, which are much easier to break into than expensive steel tanks.

Companies hit be the theft often face extra costs through repairs and unplanned halts in their timetables.

There has also been an increase in the amount of tank security technology on the market, as entrepreneurs spot a market opportunity. These include an alarm that goes off if the level in the tank drops when the ignition is not on.

The Local/DAPD/bk

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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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