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Police nab serial ‘paddling pool slasher’ after 7 years

Forty-seven paddling pools ruined. Seven years on the run. Thousands of euros in damage. But time has final run out for this wet bandit.

Police nab serial 'paddling pool slasher' after 7 years
One of the paddling pool slasher's unfortunate victims in Münnerstadt. Photo: Polizei Bad Kissingen

The people of Münnerstadt can finally sleep peacefully at night, knowing their paddling pools are at last safe.

For seven years, Lower Franconians have been terrorized by a mysterious man who would come in the night to their homes, not to rob or harm them, but to slash holes in their paddling pools, leaving them destroyed for good.

Over that time, a total of 47 inflatable pools lost their air to the unknown outlaw, who had come to be known as the “paddling pool slasher”.

But Bavarian police said on Wednesday that after an “extensive investigation”, they had finally caught their man – a 27-year-old from the area – and he admitted to his criminal streak.

Police said it had been hard to identify the “slasher” because he almost always fled the scene of his crimes without anyone detecting him, and thus they only had a few witness descriptions with which to work.

The culprit admitted that he had wrecked the inflatable pools “for fun” and that it was always a spontaneous act. During a search of his apartment, investigators also found a stash of air mattresses which he had apparently stolen from the crime scenes. Police said they “could not rule out” whether this indicated some kind of fetish.

But the young paddling-pool destroyer said he also could not remember all of the poor pools that he had mutilated, telling police he believed the total to be “around 20 to 30” – therefore not accounting for all 47.

Police said it could be possible that there may be copycats also on the loose.

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

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.

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