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.
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