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Police break up European festival crime ring

In a nearly seven-month-long investigation, police in Saxony uncovered an organised network of phone and wallet thieves that targeted Wacken, Tomorrowland and more

By Jon Chapple on 24 Aug 2016

Dour Festival, Simon Grossi

Crowds at Dour Festival in Belgium in July

image © Simon Grossi/Dour Festival

Police in Germany have broken up a crime ring they believe to be responsible for a spate of thefts at concerts and music festivals across Europe this summer.

Saxon state police were alerted to its existence following the “audacious” theft of 25 wallets and almost 100 mobile phones at a Slipknot show at the Leipziger Messe (15,000-cap.) in Leipzig on 28 January. Following one of the suspects to his home in the Schönefeld neighbourhood, they found stashed in a bush a backpack containing around 60 stolen phones.

Launching an investigation, police discovered a “large network of thieves” additionally responsible for thefts at concerts in Zwickau, Bielefeld, Lingen and Munich and found it was also operating beyond Saxony, and even outside Germany. Other crimes attributed to the gang include thefts at Wacken Open Air, Dour Festival, Tomorrowland and Lokerse Festival in Belgium, Street Parade in Zurich and Limp Bizkit shows in Dusseldorf, Tilburg in the Netherlands and Colmar in France.

Crimes attributed to the gang include thefts at Wacken Open Air, Dour Festival, Tomorrowland and Limp Bizkit shows in Dusseldorf, Tilburg and Colmor

The thieves also planned to target FKP Scorpio’s Highfield Festival in Leipzig, say police, but were recognised by detectives and apprehended on their way to the event.

Saxon police are now searching for the rightful owners of a haul of recovered phones; anyone who had theirs stolen at any of the affected events should email highfield-fundsachen@grosspoesna.de.

According to police spokeswoman Maria Braunsdorf, one of the thieves, ironically, lost his own mobile phone at one of the festivals. “Unlike him”, she says, it was discovered by an “honest finder” and handed in.


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