High speed highway heists baffle police

A new motorway theft phenomena – opening a truck's back doors and stealing its contents while driving at high speeds – has hit Germany and left police baffled. One vehicle drove for hours on the autobahn with open doors after the heist.

High speed highway heists baffle police
Photo: screenshot

A van carrying cigarettes was on Tuesday night the latest victim of what the German police have dubbed “truck robbery”. Speeding down the A7 motorway near Hildesheim in Lower Saxony, thieves managed to climb out of the sunroof and bring down the loading flap, the website of Der Spiegel news magazine reported.

Failing to open the doors, they drove off, leaving the flap down. The driver did not notice and continued going at 80 kph for hours.

And while this case was the first reported in Lower Saxony, the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is no stranger to the trend with 50 known cases since November 2012, Babara Vogelsang from the Dortmund prosecutor’s office told the magazine.

Executing a high-speed “truck robbery” happens almost always in the same way and requires three cars said Vogelsang. She explained that one car drives in front of a truck to control its speed while a second hangs behind and stops other drivers from cutting in.

A third then gets as close to the back of the truck as possible before someone climbs through the sunroof, slides over the bonnet and opens the back doors before passing back whatever they can reach from inside, again via the sunroof.

Not only incredibly dangerous, pulling off such a heist is risky as the team have no way of knowing if there is anything of worth inside, said Vogelsang.

Police estimate that around €250,000 worth of goods have been stolen through the method – mostly mobile phones, laptops and other electronics.

Vogelsang did admit that investigation into the trend was in the beginning stages and they were yet to develop a clear picture of who is carrying out the robberies. “There could be several groups operating,” she said.

What is known is that thieves seem to target parcel delivery vans, as there is almost always a chance of finding something good inside. The problem is, though, none of the delivery companies want to take responsibility if a “truck robbery” happens, Der Spiegel said.

Police in Münster have issued a leaflet informing drivers about the trend, warning them to be cautious of cars driving closely in front or behind for long periods of time.

For now, all investigators have to work off is a video taken by Romanian police in 2012 which shows an attempted motorway robbery.

Video from

The Local/jcw

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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