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CRIME

Solar panel thieves focus on rural roofs

Organised gangs of thieves have become so expert in removing solar panels from rural roofs that the police force in Lower Saxony has formed a special task force to fight it.

Solar panel thieves focus on rural roofs
Photo:DPA

Last year a series of 30 solar panel thefts were registered in the Emsland region, causing losses of several hundred thousand euros, Der Spiegel reported this weekend.

In particular a series of thefts were noted along the A31 motorway, where many chicken production facilities have sublet their roof space for solar panels, sharing in the profit created when electricity is sold to the grid.

“The facilities are easy to reach, but at the same time remote enough that the thieves are not disturbed while they work,” Lingen police spokesperson Achim van Remmerden said.

Two officers in the Emsland region are working full-time on the thefts.

Up to 30 solar modules are stolen each night. “That is as many as one can fit into a small truck,” said van Remmerden.

The thefts are cleverly orchestrated and the panels are always removed with what appears to be expert knowledge, he added.

Three men were arrested early in September, accused of stealing around 250 solar panels worth €200,000 from the Ruhr region. They attempted to sell the stolen modules online.

The solar energy promotion association in Germany has recommended that solar panels be stamped with a unique number, and runs a register of numbers and owners. The association recommends that buyers be on the lookout for suspicious products.

“If the modules are, for example, no longer properly packed, one should be a little sceptical and inform oneself via the internet,” association spokesperson Petra Hörstmann-Jungemann said.

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CRIME

German woman ‘killed lookalike to fake her own death’

A German-Iraqi woman murdered a lookalike she found on social media to fake her own death, police have said as new details emerge of the bizarre case that first came to light last year.

German woman 'killed lookalike to fake her own death'

The body of a 23-year-old woman was found in a car in August at the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt with multiple stab wounds.

Police initially said they believed the victim owned the car, but the next day identified her as someone else who looked “remarkably similar”.

The 23-year-old German-Iraqi and a 23-year-old Kosovan man were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

However, police are now working on the theory the pair murdered the victim after tracking her down online because she looked similar to the German-Iraqi.

“Investigators now believe the female suspect wanted to go into hiding and fake her death due to family problems,” they said in a statement Monday.

She had contacted several women who looked like her via social media and attempted to lure them into meeting her by making “false promises”, the police said.

She contacted the victim in early August and arranged to meet her on August 16.

The German-Iraqi woman and the Kosovan man travelled to the victim’s home in Heilbronn, near Stuttgart, to pick her up.

On the way back to Ingolstadt, they allegedly lured her out of the vehicle in a wooded area and killed her, inflicting “a large number” of knife wounds.

The suspects then continued on to Ingolstadt, where the body was found lying in the car in the evening.

According to the daily Süddeustche Zeitung, the German-Iraqi was a beautician who entrapped the victim via Instagram by offering her cosmetics.

Both women had “long brown hair, a dark complexion and a heavily made-up face”, the newspaper said.

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