Police Clamp Down On Festival Thieves

After observing what Saxony police describe as an “organized gang of thieves” for about eight months, authorities arrested three of the perpetrators at this year’s Highfield festival (Aug. 18-20) in Großpösna, Leipzig. 

Photo: Alex Heimken / dpa via AP, file
Campers at Germany’s Wacken Open Air festival are going to have some logistical challenges after organizers announced all backpacks and bags would be banned from the event area due to security concerns.

After almost 100 mobile phones and 25 wallets were stolen at a Slipknot concert in Leipzig Jan. 19, police commenced its investigations. Officers were able to track down one of the thieves and found a backpack containing 60 of the stolen phones, most of which were returned to their owners. That initial investigation had led authorities to believe that they were dealing with a criminal network. More thefts at German concerts could be linked to the same group, which Saxony police estimates to have consisted of at least 20 persons from Romania, that struck not just regionally, but in all of Europe.

Thefts at Belgium festivals Dour Festival, Tomorrowland, and Lokerse, Wacken in Germany, Street Parade in Switzerland, and three Limp Bizkit concerts in the Netherlands, France and Germany, respectively, were all attributed to the same crime ring. At this year’s Highfield – which promoter Folkert Koopmans called the “best edition yet” – police finally clamped down on three of the culprits, who got hold of tickets a few hours before the event. They then entered the festival site at Störmthaler See on Friday, August 19, and began taking what wasn’t theirs. On Saturday morning, when they left the site – their loot in tow – officers made their move.

Three men, one aged 21, two aged 32, were taken into custody. They had 20 smart phones and a couple of thousands of Euros in cash on them. Festivalgoers who were robbed can contact the police department in Leipzig, or write to [email protected].