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Allan Hall, “German 'Robin Hoods' give poor a taste of the high life”

German 'Robin Hoods' give poor a taste of the high life

Allan Hall

From The Scotsman

A gang of anarchist Robin Hood-style thieves, who dress as
superheroes and steal expensive food from exclusive
restaurants and delicatessens to give to the poor, are being
hunted by police in the German city of Hamburg.

The gang members seemingly take delight in injecting humour
into their raids, which rely on sheer numbers and the
confusion caused by their presence. After they plundered
Kobe beef fillets, champagne and smoked salmon from a
gourmet store on the exclusive Elbastrasse, they presented
the cashier with a bouquet of flowers before making their

The latest robbery is part of a pattern over the past
several months, suggesting that the thieves deliberately set
out to highlight what they perceive as the inequality
inherent in German society.

However, the authorities do not agree. Bodo Franz, a police
spokesman, said: “They get off feeling they are just like
Robin Hood. There are about 30 in the group. But whatever
their motives, they are thieves, plain and simple.”

Carsten Sievers, the manager of a luxury supermarket in the
wealthy Blankenese area of Hamburg, recently watched the
robbers run off with trolleys full of expensive foodstuffs,
including Kobe beef which, at more than £100 a pound, is
always on their illicit shopping list.

In another recent swoop, the gang emptied a groaning buffet
table in a top restaurant into sacks, while one of their
number held up a sign saying. “The fat years are over” --
the title of a hit film currently doing the rounds in Germany.

In internet statements, the gang have made a point of saying
their booty is distributed to Hartz IV recipients -- the
poorest of Germany's long-term unemployed. The benefit is
named after the disgraced Volkswagen personnel director
Peter Hartz who, before he lost his job with the car-maker
in a prostitutes-and-bribes scandal, devised the new
means-testing which is loathed and derided by society's most
economically challenged.

When the gang robbed the gourmet store in April --
triggering a massive police investigation that cost £20,000
in taxpayers' money without an arrest being made -- they
left a note behind saying: “Without the abilities of the
superheroes to help them, it would be impossible for
ordinary people to survive in the city of the millionaires.”

Police say they are concentrating their investigation on a
loose collective of anarchists and malcontents called
“Hamburg in Vain”, to which they believe the superheroes
belong. But they admit there is a certain panache and skill
about their robberies.

The gang are also behind black market cinema tickets which
they distribute free to the poor, and they have printed
leaflets telling passengers how to dodge ticket inspectors
on the city's underground and buses.

Mr Franz said: “They try to make crime fun but are
politically motivated.”