Brits jailed for stealing museum rhino horns

Two British men who stole rhino horns from a museum to sell on the Asian market as medicine and potency drugs were sentenced to prison in Germany on Friday.

Brits jailed for stealing museum rhino horns
Photo: DPA

The Offenburg court sentenced the 31- and 29-year-old to three and two-and-a-half years for what Judge Ute Körber said was serious joint theft, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Saturday.

The men, who both have long criminal records, admitted stealing the horns from stuffed rhino heads on display in the Offenburg museum “Ritterhaus” in Baden-Württemberg.

Their modus operandi was simple, according to earlier media reports: a couple would distract the museum’s staff while two men upstairs climbed on top of a display case, took the head from where it was hanging on the wall and knocked its horns off with a sledge hammer. They then fled with the horns hidden in their coats.

Horns have also been stolen in Hamburg, Münster, Bamberg and the eastern town of Sebnitz and other places.

They are apparently part of a global network of rhino horn dealers, directed from the UK and Ireland, the magazine said.

Another member of the gang has already been convicted under youth laws and is free. A fourth man aged 36 is on the run. The rhino horns have not been found, but are considered to be worth around €50,000 each – when powdered, they are highly valued in Asia.

The Local/hc

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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