A joint group of German and Polish police forces announced today that the solar thieves responsible for at least 22 robberies at the PV solar facilities in Germany have been placed under arrest. On Sunday night, these six 18- to 39-year-old-men broke into a solar park in Busek, the west-central German federal land Hesse, and attempted to steal 50,000 (US$55.8 thousand) worth of inverters.
The police report describes in details how criminals, who arrived from Poland, spent hours disassembling solar arrays and demonstrating their experience in this very specific type of theft. 24 inverters were found in their car, after police forces stopped it right next to the crime scene, catching the thieves red handed.
Last year, there were more than 60 robberies at solar PV farms in the federal state Brandenburg alone; and 21 have already been recorded this year. Some facilities have been robbed up to five times over the last three years. Each time a farm has been stripped of at least 50,000 worth of modules and inverters, which means even higher repair and replacement costs for the operator.
In August 2015, the government of the state Brandenburg, close the German capital Berlin, established a special criminal investigation division Helios, which is specifically dealing with the cases of theft of modules and other hardware from solar farms. The investigators soon got on the trail of a criminal group from a Polish city Zielona Gora, located in the western part of the country, near the German border. According to the police, solar modules from German PV plants are being transported to Poland for wider distribution.
To be able to catch the solar thieves red handed, the German Helios division joined forces with the Organized Crime Investigation office in Zielona Gora, Poland.
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