Metal thieves delay 17,000 German trains

Metal thieves targeting Germany's railway Deutsche Bahn delayed 17,000 trains last year by stealing among other things copper cable worth around €17 million.

Metal thieves delay 17,000 German trains
Photo: DPA

“The thieves are risking their lives for a few euros and do not only cause great material damage for Deutsche Bahn but create problems for above all our customers,” Gerd Neubeck, the rail operator’s head of security told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The paper on Tuesday reported figures showing the damage caused by metal thieves who target railway tracks and overhead cables for the copper, which is easy to sell for cash.

The profits to be made are increasingly attractive as commodity prices have been rising fast. The paper said experts estimated the cost of such thefts across Europe could be nearly €9 billion.

Deutsche Bahn got together last summer with energy producer RWE, Deutsche Telekom and the Association of German Metal Dealers to form a security association to swap ideas and experiences as well as information about new thefts.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported figures collected by this group, showing that last year metal thieves struck Deutsche Bahn 2,700 times, around 4,000 hours of train delays. Energy firm RWE was also hit 423 times last year, causing €2.1 million worth of damage.

In one case in the Rhineland a tram driver found himself stranded in the middle of town because the overhead cables were missing.

“There was actually a significant section missing,” said Ulrich Leuning, manager of the Federal Association of German Steel Recycling and Disposal Companies (BDSV). “Thieves had cut it out just shortly beforehand.”

Various attempts are being made to mark copper cable so that it can be identified as stolen when being offered for sale.

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