Fear of corona: locals hunt for cars with foreign license plates
- In the german coastal regions, the fear of corona is taking on bizarre features.
- residents with foreign license plates are insulted and mobbed – some cars are even damaged.
- Politicians and authorities appeal to the common sense of the citizens.
North. Lower Saxony’s coastal resorts would normally be bustling with tourists at this time of year, strolling along the beaches in glorious spring weather. In times of corona restrictions, however, that is exactly what is prohibited: tourist activities are forbidden, as is, for example, the stay of people who only have a secondary residence at the north sea.
However, this very circumstance is now causing a bizarre phenomenon in the coastal towns: there are increasing reports of residents being mobbed by locals because of their foreign license plates. And that, although they themselves have their permanent residence in the region. in some cases vehicles were even damaged.
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car doused with paint and damaged
an extreme case of this kind happened a few days ago in the district of aurich: here, the car of a clinic employee had been smeared with white and non-washable paint, the clinic in norden reported on monday. The damage to property is considerable, charges have been filed.
And it was not the first case of this kind: already a few weeks ago the car had shown a big unexplained dent. In the meantime, the clinic employee is afraid that there could be further damage to safety-relevant parts of the vehicle, the statement continues.
For the hospital, the case is clear: the reason for the attacks is the car’s foreign license plate – although the colleague’s main place of residence is in the north. "even if there had been a violation, then criminal vigilante justice must not determine the action," says the management of the clinic.
verbal abuse in cuxhaven
It is not the only case of this kind on the north sea coast. In the tourist town of cuxhaven, residents with foreign license plates have been harassed and asked to leave the town since the beginning of the corona measures. On a note that was already shared in march in a facebook group, it reads: "have not heard the shot? Ignorant and selfish people like you contribute to the spreading of the virus. (. ) we don’t want corona-tourism in cuxhaven, especially not from NRW. (. ) your license plate was photographed."
As it turned out later, the license plate did not belong to an illegal tourist – but to a resident of cuxhaven who had simply kept his old license plate.
Cases like this one have led residents with foreign license plates to resort to emergency solutions: they hang signs on their cars that read, for example, "first residence cuxhaven". This was reported in the "cuxhavener nachrichten". Similar cases also exist in schleswig-holstein, such as "shz.De" reports.
in march, cuxhaven’s mayor uwe santjer also felt compelled to issue an appeal to his residents: "please refrain from writing such notes.santjer pointed out that "some people with foreign license plates are registered in cuxhaven or at least work here". These citizens could perhaps work for the police and protect them, could work in the clinic and save their lives, or much more besides."
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The situation is gradually improving
At least in cuxhaven, the appeal seems to have had an effect in the meantime: anke rieken from the cuxhaven police department told the redaktionsnetzwerk deutschland (RND) that the number of such cases is now declining. "the cases gained a lot of momentum via facebook groups at the beginning of the restrictions," says rieken. Fortunately, no damaged cars were found in the region, as was the case in the district of aurich. Also, citizens would rarely call the police to report out-of-town license plates.
In wangerland, also idyllically located on lower saxony’s north sea coast, the municipality got ahead of the problem. Since the end of march, it has been issuing so-called identification papers for car drivers. They can be placed behind the window and confirm that the resident has his main residence in the municipality of wangerland.
The demand for these plates has been high, reports the wilhelmshavener zeitung. More than 100 of these certificates had been issued. "We definitely experience that people with foreign license plates are looked at askance," the head of the public order office, markus gellert, is quoted as saying.
Mayor bjorn muhlena meanwhile appealed to the citizens: "we are one wangerland. We must not allow a division of society."after the distribution of the car signs, the "stream of reports from concerned citizens" had initially leveled off.
Denunciation also in mecklenburg-vorpommern
However, the phenomenon does not seem to be limited to the coastal towns of lower saxony. the "ostsee-zeitung" reports incidents on usedom where car drivers with foreign license plates were insulted or spat at. a berliner with her first residence in mecklenburg-vorpommern has been called a "whore". A driver with Dortmund license plates even had his tires punctured.
local media also report similar cases in other vacation regions. near the kummerower lake in mecklenburg-vorpommern, cars with foreign license plates have even been pursued by the public order office, according to an article in the "nordkurier".
on a saturday, the employees of the malchin public order office had attached themselves to practically every car that, according to its license plate, did not come from mecklenburg-vorpommern. "the hunt is on for vacationers in the self-proclaimed number one tourist destination," the paper analyzes sarcastically.
Meanwhile, a Berliner who had moved to the city had the police on his tail because of his foreign license plate, the newspaper reports further. "i would never have thought that in these times, when we should all be showing solidarity, people would point the finger at others just because of someone else’s license plate," the man is quoted as saying. "this denunciation reminds one of the block wardens or of horch und guck."
Police admonish citizens
Police in mecklenburg-vorpommern now apparently feel compelled to issue urgent warnings to citizens. In the police departments, the phones no longer stand still because of reports of alleged corona violations, it says there.
Not every car with license plates from other states indicates vacationers – in many cases they are company cars, police say. In addition, since 2015 it has been possible to keep the old license plate even after moving to a new place of residence. There is no reason to take these people to task in a dispute.