Stefan Nicola and Alex Webb
August 18, 2011
Berlin resident Renate Langanke woke up shortly after midnight to a loud explosion. When the pensioner peeked out her window, she saw flames billowing from two Mercedes-Benz brand cars parked across the street.
“Fire and smoke were everywhere, you could smell burned rubber, it was awful,” said Langanke, who lives in a sleepy area with tree-lined alleys in white-collar western Berlin. “I’ve always felt safe here, now I’m scared.”
Arsonists have set fire to 26 cars in the German capital in the last two days, mainly from Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) and Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi, police said today. That brings the total number torched this year in Berlin to at least 138, more than double the figure for all of 2010.
The rise in Berlin car burnings coincides with widespread lawlessness that erupted last week across England. More than 1,500 people were arrested as rioters looted shops, attacked bystanders and burnt autos. In Berlin, far-left extremists are specifically targeting German luxury cars, symbols of the country’s wealth and export prowess, police said.