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German police probe curious case of 9-year-old’s unwelcome Christmas gifts

Many children know the heart-sinking moment when they tear off the bright wrapping of their coveted Christmas gift to reveal the wrong colour trainers or an ill-favoured toy.

German police probe curious case of 9-year-old's unwelcome Christmas gifts
File picture of gifts under the Weinachtsbaum (Christmas tree). Photo: DPA

Many children know the heart-sinking moment when they tear off the bright wrapping of their coveted Christmas gift to reveal the wrong colour trainers or an ill-favoured toy.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about preparing for Christmas like a German

But one German boy, enraged by his paltry selection of Christmas presents, was not content to react with a thin smile and grudging 'thank you'. Instead he called the police – who dutifully sent officers to his home to investigate.

Having dialed the emergency services hotline on Tuesday, the child explained to police that he had not received any of the gifts he had requested for Christmas.

“The officers arrived and found a very angry little boy,” said a spokesman from the local police in Zetel, in northwestern Germany, according to the Nordwest Zeitung newspaper.

Since they had a quiet shift on Christmas Day, the police decided to play along and launched an investigation into the case.

First they examined the initial Christmas list that the child had composed, then they compared it with each of the gifts offered to the boy and embarked on a family mediation session.

After thorough scrutiny of the evidence, police were able to resolve the dispute by persuading the boy that Santa Claus must have confused his wish list with that of another child.

Contacted by AFP the police station in the city of Oldenburg confirmed the curious case, but did not wish to reveal the contents of the child's Christmas list.

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POLICE

German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.

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