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Flood in North Rhine-Westphalia: Police officer talks about scrap collectors

2021-07-26T05:21:16.447Z

Flood victims put their belongings to dry in front of the door. Scrap collectors take advantage of this and simply take some things with them. Police officer Marcel Dilling about people who enrich themselves from the plight of others.



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Destroyed household items in Hagen

Photo: David Inderlied / dpa

SPIEGEL:

Mr. Dilling, the police in the Märkisches Kreis have been dealing more and more with suspects who have stolen objects over the past few days.

Are looters taking advantage of the flood victims' emergency situation?

Dilling:

They're not looters, they're scrap collectors.

They drive through the residential areas in sprinters and look for used items, for example washing machines or radiators.

They then take them with them to turn the metals into money.

But such a thing is theft.

But we've been struggling with that for years.

SPIEGEL:

Has it increased since the floods?

Dilling:

Yes, we have had two dozen missions for it in the past few days and a whole bunch of advertisements.

It wasn't until Saturday that the four of us had to write four more advertisements.

The scrap collectors come here especially from the Ruhr area, mostly Romanian citizens residing in Bochum, Essen, Dortmund or Recklinghausen.

You can still earn money with old radiators, which is obviously an attractive line of business.

SPIEGEL:

Do these people even have a permit to collect scrap?

Dilling:

Only very few.

If the police catch someone, they of course have to show the relevant documents.

There are clear guidelines on how to remove rubbish.

You can't just throw old electrical appliances into a Sprinter.

SPIEGEL:

What do the false scrap collectors face if they are stopped by the police?

Dilling:

We talk about theft or at least an administrative offense when garbage is removed incorrectly.

The penalties that are imposed for violating the trade regulations or recycling laws are not made of cardboard.

You can quickly reach the high four-digit range.

SPIEGEL:

How do you know whether someone is a real or a fake garbage collector?

Dilling:

You can usually tell by a capital A on the front and back of the vehicle.

But some people simply stick the A to their car.

Often the wrong garbage collectors are on the road with vehicles that are in an absolutely ailing condition.

They are really dangerous for traffic and we regularly shut them down.

SPIEGEL:

How do scrap collectors react to the controls?

Dilling:

They say it's all rubbish anyway.

But often that's not rubbish at all.

Some people don't have a garden and have to put their things in front of the door to dry.

Suddenly three people jump out of the car and throw the things into the hold.

There can be boxes with family photos or documents.

Nobody wants something like this to fall into the wrong hands.

The poor people who already have the shit on the steam now have to deal with the junk collectors too.

SPIEGEL:

How can the flood victims protect themselves?

Dilling:

We advise everyone to stay vigilant and report suspicious vehicles.

SPIEGEL:

Are there more police officers on patrol now?

Dilling:

We were present from the start, but we have increased our presence since the week before last Friday, when the scrap collection started rolling.

In addition, there are skilled workers who specialize in the control of heavy loads and who also understand commercial activities.

The citizens will definitely notice that more patrols are on the way.

Dozens of colleagues were also out and about last weekend.

Word of that seems to have got around among the scrap collectors, from Saturday lunchtime we hardly saw any conspicuous cars.

SPIEGEL:

How are the emergency services?

Dilling:

We were burdened beyond the normal extent. We work very closely with the fire brigade and when the news came that two emergency services had died on the job, it was tough. That affects us very much. The past few days have also been very exhausting physically. We had colleagues with us who worked double shifts, quite simply because they would not have come home because of the flood anyway.

Source: spiegel

All life articles on 2021-07-26

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