German Man Admits Torching 100 Cars - Out of Envy

Authorities initially believed it was a political protest

By Greg Wilson
|  Monday, Oct 24, 2011  |  Updated 11:27 AM CDT
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German Man Admits Torching 100 Cars - Out of Envy

Authorities initially believed the cars were set ablaze by political demonstrators.

A man who set fire to more than 100 luxury cars in Berlin acted out of envy, according to police.

Authorities initially believed the cars were set on fire by political extremists, but the 27-year-old suspect arrested Sunday said he acted out of envy and frustration, according to Reuters. He told cops he had debts and no job, when he set 67 luxury cars- including Audis, BMWs and Mercedes Benzes - ablaze in one three-month run.

The fires, which he set almost nightly, spread to 35 more cars parked nearby.

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

Car arson has spiked this year, and authorities are using high-tech equipment and helicopters with thermal image cameras. Up to 500 police were deployed on the streets at night to look for suspects. More than 470 cars have been set on fire this year and police believe perhaps a third have been politically motivated.

"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," Berlin's Interior Minister Ehrhart Koerting told Reuters recently. "But I don't think anyone has that anymore."

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