Thieves use evacuation to loot houses

Thieves raided several houses in Dortmund when 20,000 people were evacuated while bomb disposal experts defused a World War II bomb on Sunday. They took €8,000 worth of goods, police said.

Thieves use evacuation to loot houses
Evacuees find temporary shelter. Photo: DPA

Despite efforts to completely evacuate a 1.5-kilometre-radius in the North Rhine-Westphalian city, a number of people decided to take the risk of being blown up in order to steal from empty houses.

Thieves entered six houses in a 300-metre-radius in the Hornbruch area of the city, making off with jewellery, cash and electronics worth at least €8,000, the Westdeutsche Allegemeine Zeitung (WAZ) reported on Monday.

Police are not ruling out that all robberies might have been carried out by the same people. Spokeswoman Cornelia Weigandt said of the evacuated area: "if someone wanted to hide, they could have done."

It would have taken days for the police to thoroughly check the area for people left behind, she said. And while the time the bomb was being defused, officers also left the area.

Before the mass evacuation, police put out a statement reassuring concerned residents that their houses would not be at risk of burglary. Officers in helicopters, they said, would keep watch from above – but they failed to spot thieves moving between houses.

“I find it vexing, sad and it makes me angry that shameless thieves could use the state of emergency that Hornbruch's residents found themselves in, to benefit themselves,” said Norbert Wesseler, president of the NRW police force.

READ MORE: Bomb evacuation largest since World War II

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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