The Local’s top ten crime stories of the year

From the gruesome to the bizarre to the ridiculous, this year has seen a wide array of crime stories. Here are our top ten.

The Local's top ten crime stories of the year
Photo: DPA

Rogue dentist barred after 20-tooth incident

A dentist in Magdeburg lost his license in April after a patient awoke from general anaesthetic with 20 teeth missing. The rogue dentist had needlessly removed the teeth without permission.

Look-alike prisoner gets cell-mate's release

In May an investigation was launched after a prisoner escaped from jail by having a haircut. The 32-year-old was not due for release but simply walked out of jail by having the same style haircut as his lookalike cell-mate who was.

Emotions high at start of neo-Nazi murder trial

Germany’s biggest ever neo-Nazi murder trial began in May. 38-year-old Beate Zschäpewas accused of being a member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU). She was suspected of taking part in the murder of nine immigrant shop owners as well as a policewoman.  

Cops 'arrest mystery autobahn shooter'

A mystery motorway shooter was arrested in June for firing from his car at oncoming vehicles across Germany. He had been doing it for five years and police had received over 700 reports of shots being fired at cars and lorries.

Cops 'turn' Trojan elephant in drug drama

Two young drug smugglers thought they had got away with it when in July a drug-filled wooden elephant arrived as planned in Saarbrücken. What they didn’t know is that the elephant had been busted en route. Police came knocking.

Woman 'killed partner's dad and cut up body'

In July a woman in Hamburg strangled her partner’s father, chopped up his body and buried him – and all because of a row over the washing up.

Ibiza phone thief 'world's most stupid'

A phone thief was made to look rather foolish in August when the German tourist to whom it belonged got her own back. The thief had forgotten to turn off the automatic camera upload function so she created a blog documenting the man’s day-to-day life with pictures and videos taken on the device.

Mystery surrounds €1 billion Nazi art trove

When nearly 1,500 paintings, including pieces by Picasso and Matisse, were discovered in a Munich flat in November, a search began to track down their rightful owners. The works were believed to have been stolen by the Nazis from Jewish collectors.

Policeman 'killed man he met on cannibal site'

In November a policeman in Saxony was arrested for suspected murder after he allegedly chopped up a man he met on a cannibal website. He buried the body parts in his garden.

Berlin thieves steal 300 phones in one minute

A bold but well executed robbery in central Berlin ended with thieves stealing 300 mobile phones in just one minute. In December a group of four men ploughed a car through the glass doors of a shopping centre and charged into a new electronics store, bagging as many handsets as they could.

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One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

A 21-year-old gunman opened fire at a secondary school in northern Germany on Thursday, badly injuring a female member of staff before being arrested, police said.

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

The incident happened at the Lloyd Gymnasium school in the centre of Bremerhaven, a city on Germany’s North Sea coast, on Thursday morning. 

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” police said in a statement. The injured woman was not a pupil, police said.

They said the suspect had entered the school building and fired at a female member of staff, who was “seriously injured”.

The alarm was quickly raised and police said they detained the suspect at a nearby location soon after and had seized his weapon at the scene.

The injured woman is being treated in hospital.

A video circulating on social media and German news sites appeared to capture the moment the gunman was arrested.

A man dressed in black is seen lying face down on a street corner, with a weapon next to him, before being handcuffed by officers.

But there was no immediate confirmation of reports the alleged weapon was a crossbow.

Bremerhaven police tweeted in the morning that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Local news site Nord24 said a school pupil had heard shots being fired and called the police. Pupils barricaded themselves in their classrooms.

Police launched a large-scale operation and cordoned off the area around the school while they carried out inquiries. 

By mid-afternoon, police said special forces had completed their search and the last people had left the building.

Authorities set up a phone hotline for concerned parents. Many parents had gathered in front of the school after being alerted by their children.

Pupils and staff are receiving psychological counselling.

Local media said only around 200 people were on the school grounds, fewer than normal because of exam times.

In a separate incident on Thursday, police in the eastern city of Leipzig said they had detained a 21-year-old student still at secondary school after being tipped off by Snapchat that he had posted pictures of himself with a gun and made unspecified threats.

The US social media platform alerted German authorities, prompting Leipzig police to take action.

 A police spokesman said that the 21-year-old did not pose a real threat, however, and only possessed an airsoft gun, a replica firearm that uses non-lethal, usually plastic, pellets.

‘Strict gun laws’

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and
injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The gunman then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone under 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.