The word looting is making the rounds on social media – thieves are raiding deserted towns in the areas affected by the weather disaster; Sometimes it sounds as if whole hordes fell upon destroyed supermarkets, retail stores and even private homes. The police stations in Cologne and Aachen are working massively to counter this impression. “None of the emergency calls received could be traced back to a looting,” said a spokesman for the Cologne police at the request of the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”. “There were definitely no hordes here that cleared department stores,” reports a press spokesman for the Aachen police. They are very unhappy that there were rumors of this kind over the weekend.
But there are individual cases. So far, five criminal proceedings for theft have been initiated: A 32-year-old man had used the display of a badly damaged jewelry store on Stolberger Rathausstrasse last Thursday. Witnesses observed him and called the police, who stopped him shortly afterwards. At around 2 p.m. there was another mission on Rathausstrasse. Witnesses reported three people in a supermarket. The trio, two women aged 24 and 28 and a 35-year-old man, were found by the police on site. At around midnight, a person in an Eschweiler pharmacy was finally reported to the control center. There, too, a 30-year-old suspect could be found and the crime reported. In Euskirchen there were also attacks on firefighters, ranging from verbal attacks to throwing stones. Here, too, are individual cases, said a city spokesman. That probably also applies to the theft of a bicycle that was stolen from a pensioner in Euskirchener Mühlenstraße on Friday evening.
Entries on Facebook
It is Facebook entries like this one that stir up social media users and lead them to conclude that there is large-scale looting in the flood areas: “I can’t believe it! We barely escaped the masses of water on Wednesday after we were able to save a few of our belongings on the first floor of our half-timbered courtyard. Today we find out that we have been looted. ”Cupboards were torn open and chests of drawers ransacked. “TV sets gone, consoles gone, cell phones gone, clothes gone. And obviously they carried them so heavily that a game console fell into the mud on the ground floor when you went out, ”said the Facebook post. “And that in a village with just 500 inhabitants, where everyone, knows everyone … supposedly! I can’t believe that there are actually still people who take away the last few things from others who have just lost everything. “
At large again
According to the police spokesman, seven people have been arrested in the greater Cologne area in the past few days on suspicion of looting; they are all now at large again. The arrests were made after evidence from eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen how the people tampered with someone else’s property. However, they were able to credibly show that this impression was not true, the spokesman said.
As part of the ongoing flood operation, the police continue to show a strong presence in order to prevent criminal offenses and administrative offenses and to secure the property of the people affected by the flood. Civilian officials are also used for this purpose.
Altena in the Sauerland was also badly hit by the flood. The police have had to intervene twelve times since last Friday because thieves were targeting electronic waste, such as washing machines. According to the police, the people in question even traveled from the Ruhr area.
Apparently a complete catering kitchen was stolen in Wuppertal-Beyenburg. This stood in front of the restaurant to be cleaned. It cannot be ruled out that the kitchen was mistaken for scrap metal and that there was no actual theft intention.
Even the Ministry of the Interior in North Rhine-Westphalia cannot confirm on request that extraordinary incidents have occurred so far. “The police are keeping a close eye on this. You have to keep an eye on that, ”said a spokeswoman. 500 officers of the Cologne police are on duty in the Rhein-Sieg district and in the district of Euskirchen – 300 who were mainly responsible for the search for missing persons, and another 200 as part of the so-called spatial protection concept. “They block destroyed streets, patrols and are there for the residents, even where the emergency call does not work again,” explains the spokesman for the Cologne police. A far more tangible problem than looting for the helpers is disaster tourism can cause gawkers to interfere with rescue and clean-up operations.