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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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.