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CRIME

Police hunt ‘Kermit the con-artist’

German police are hunting for a con-artist who stole an electric bike after claiming he was organizing charity bicycle tours for the blind – and that he was Germany's dubbing actor for Kermit the Frog.

Police hunt 'Kermit the con-artist'
Not a suspect. Photo: Youtube

The man calling himself “Herr Schröder” entered a specialist electric bike shop in Cologne at the end of May, and told 46-year-old shopkeeper Claudia Liebe that he was the German voice of the world’s most famous frog.

Just like Kermit, he proved to be adept with the ladies. “He seemed totally serious, and very charming,” Liebe told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper.

“Herr Schröder” said he spent his free time organizing bike tours for the blind and now had some donations that he wanted to invest – specifically, €13,000 for two tandems and a motorised tricycle.

The trickster said the purchase would be filmed by a camera team for his employer, state broadcaster WDR, the next day.

Liebe, who had herself worked with disabled people previously, leapt at the chance to promote her shop for a good cause and agreed.

Then, as the “Voice of Kermit” left to go the bank to get a deposit, he stopped casually in front of one of the shop’s prize products – a “Kölle-Bike,” decorated with the city’s coat-of-arms, worth €2,500.

“He really loved the bike,” said Liebe. “And I was so naïve that I offered to let him ride it to the bank.”

Inevitably, she never saw him again. She did get her bike back though. “Schröder” later sold the bike for a “donation” of €200 to a horse riding school in a different area of Cologne.

Police said they believe “Herr Schröder” was a 57-year-old con-artist they have been seeking for some time. Their suspect has been connected with at least half a dozen cases of fraud.

WDR spokeswoman Annette Metzinger also told the paper, “It does happen that someone falsely claims to be a WDR employee,” and added such cases were taken seriously and prosecuted.

Kermit the Frog could not be reached for comment.

The Local/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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