Germany-Poland

Schengen good for tractor thieves

Published on 25 July 2012 at 13:25

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"Peasant seeks tractor", leads the compact edition of Die Welt, which devotes its front page to the serial vanishing acts of agricultural machinery along the German-Polish border. As official statistics fail to document the phenomenon, 92 agricultural and farming operators in the region have come together to put some numbers to the problem. Eighty percent of them, it turns out, have suffered more than one theft, with losses amounting to €2.2 million. The nocturnal thievery is beginning to sour the atmosphere in the region, says the daily.

The open German-Polish border since 2007 [the date Poland entered the Schengen area] has made the thieves’ work easier. Rarely are they arrested. While the Germans accuse the Poles, the Poles point their fingers at Lithuanians and Ukrainians. Poland, they say, is merely the transit country.

The Berlin daily reports that abandoned machines recovered in forests were found thanks only to their GPS, or because they were stuck in a swamp. Faced with this crime clear-up rate of zero percent and threats from angry farmers to take the law into their own hands, the government of Brandenburg has sent three police units to the border. "Experts are talking of a 'Schengen effect',” writes Die Welt —

In Poland, car thefts have fallen since the borders opened, while in Germany they have gone up; in Brandenburg, they have tripled. [...] But the Germans are powerless. They have no right to follow suspects’ vehicles into Poland. Ironically, the Schengen agreement set the limits on this.

The response is being drawn up. A German-Polish team of 50 officers has been formed to combat the thefts.

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