Berlin's ton-up 'carsonist' held

2011-10-24 08:40

BERLIN, Germany - A man who set fire to more than 100 cars here was motivated by envy and frustration.,

Police arrested the 27-year-old 'carsonist' who told them that being jobless and in debt led him to  burn 67 luxury cars.

The attacks led to 35 more cars parked nearbyalso burning. The nightly attacks, often started by slow-burning braai firelighters, had baffled police and left them looking inept in the middle of a mayoral election.


Berlin state crime office director Christian Steiof said: "This is a sensational triumph."

A second police official told a media conference that the man had confessed to setting 67 cars on fire since June, 2011

"He wasn't motivated by politics but rather by social envy," senior officer Oliver Stepien said. "In essence, he said 'I've got debts, my life stinks and others with fancy cars are better off and they deserve this'."

Luxury cars have been set on fire in small numbers in Berlin for many years, especially in districts that once had low rents due to their unattractive proximity to the now demolished Berlin Wall between the then East and West Germany.

Car arson soared in 2011 with as many as a dozen vehicles burned on some nights. Berlin police turned to federal authorities for help, using high-tech equipment and helicopters with heat-sensitive cameras. As many as 500 police were deployed on the streets at night to look for suspects and a special 150-strong task force was set up.


More than 470 cars have been burned so far in 2011 and police are searching for more suspects. They believe perhaps a third have been politically motivated.

Berlin's interior minister Ehrhart Koerting said: "It might have been the case in 2009 that some people in Berlin had some understanding for the fire attacks as some sort of protest. I don't think anyone has that any more."

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