The suspect has admitted to regularly shooting at vehicles travelling in the opposite direction and has shown police his weapons arsenal, according to a report by regional broadcasters Bayerische Rundfunk and SWRinfo.
The lorry driver was arrested in the Eifel region in western Germany on Sunday in the culmination of an intensive investigation, spelling the end of five years of fear on the nation’s roads, the reports said.
Police have received more than 700 reports of shots being fired at lorries and cars, always coming from the other side of the road since 2008.
In 2009 a woman was seriously injured when she was hit in the throat while driving on a motorway near Würzburg. Another woman was badly hurt when her car came off the road and hit the crash barrier after being shot at.
Another accident was caused near Stuttgart when a shot hit a lorry driver, Bayerische Rundfunk reported.
The shooter’s favourite targets were new cars in transit on the back of lorries – meaning damage was often only discovered by drivers at the end of long journeys.
Stumped, police offered a reward of up to €100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the culprit and in 2012 the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) took over the investigation.
According to the reports, the BKA then set up devices all over the country to register number plates. They waited until a case was reported and then compared hundreds of number plates of vehicles on the road with mobile phone data in the area, until they could finally narrow their search down to one suspect.
The BKA would not comment on the arrest on Sunday, but a spokesperson confirmed to the broadcasters that there had been an operation, with no further details.