Farmer unearths potato thief after 15 years

A German farmer who was fed up with a thief abusing his potato honesty box has caught the culprit after 15 years of watching, and waiting.

Farmer unearths potato thief after 15 years
Photo: DPA

German farms often have stands outside where passersby can take produce and put money in an honesty box. But a potato fan in Lower Saxony has been taking large numbers of spuds during each visit and paying next to nothing for decades.

Fed up with losing potatoes, but not wanting to relinquish the honesty stand, farmer Friedrich Landsberg set up three cameras there 15 years ago. “You simply can’t rely on the honesty of humanity,” he said.

Indeed, It was not until this week that he had enough evidence to report the culprit to the police. The 59-year-old normally wore sunglasses so large that identifying him had proved difficult. His car always remained out of sight, meaning that he could not be traced via its licence plate.

On Monday the cameras caught the potato thief squirrelling 19 kilos of spuds into his bag, and putting just 15 cents in the honesty box. A few days before this he was filmed taking 12.5 kilos – a haul that would have cost him around €10 in a shop.

Finally, the shots were clear enough to identify the mysterious bandit. Police in the Elze area of the state knocked on his door and he confessed to having taken the spuds. In fact, Friedrich had crossed paths with the culprit before, when he caught him stealing ten years ago. A criminal investigation has now been launched.

DPA/The Local/jcw

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.