After months of investigation, the police caught several suspected vintage thieves. But although some vehicles could be seized, some “cultural assets” are lost forever.
After the international raid against vintage car thieves, investigators have dampened the owners’ hopes for the return of the rarities. Most of the precious cars were dismantled and sold as spare parts, the police and public prosecutor reported in Düsseldorf on Wednesday. In some cases it is “irretrievably lost cultural goods”.
The five alleged thieves between the ages of 21 and 30 who were arrested on Tuesday in Belgium and the Netherlands are now to be extradited to Germany, where they could probably be tried in Düsseldorf. Up to ten years imprisonment is provided for aggravated gang theft. A total of 19 suspects are identified who are said to belong to three different gangs.
The raid was preceded by months of investigations after a sharp increase in classic car thefts in Bonn, Cologne and Düsseldorf had been established from summer 2020. According to the current status of the investigation, 57 cars and motorcycles were stolen by the thieves in Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bonn, Meerbusch, Aachen, Essen, Mönchengladbach, Krefeld, Bocholt and Karlsruhe – with a total value of more than 3.5 million euros.
Police seize 17 classic cars
17 vehicles were already seized in the course of the investigation. During the international police operation in the border triangle, only one motorcycle was discovered on Tuesday that was stolen a week ago in Aachen.
In the Netherlands, a functioning bazooka from the Second World War was discovered and secured during the action on Tuesday. That was a chance find.