Hundreds of stolen car parts seized

The SOKO KFZ (Special Commission for cars) has seized 385 stolen engines, 254 vehicle parts and two disassembled luxury vehicles with a value of more than €10 million, from an organization calling itself in Styria.

Hundreds of stolen car parts seized
Detail of some of the stolen vehicle parts. Photo: APA

The main suspect, who is reported to have sold the goods over the internet, has already fled the country according to Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

Austrian authorities received a tip-off from a police station in Passau, Germany. Police there noticed that hundreds of engines and vehicles parts were being auctioned off on eBay by someone calling themselves 

Investigators from SOKO were able to identify 30 stolen vehicles from the pictures on eBay. After making a fake purchase they were able to track down the suspect in Styria. The Interior Ministry said he has been involved in 291 car thefts. 

The main suspect, identified as 31-year old Andreas W., had already fled by the time police began to look for him – as he was also being pursued for non-payment of tax. He went to Budapest, then Qatar and onto the Philippines – where until recently he was still selling stolen car parts online. 
"It's only a matter of time before we apprehend him," SOKO boss Rainer Erhart said. 
Andreas W. is part of a larger network, police said. Cars are stolen in Germany, Italy and France and delivered by trucking companies to Poland. Andreas W. then bought parts of the gutted cars and sold them via various Internet sites. 
Christian Stella, Deputy Director of the Austrian National Police, said that criminals are increasingly selling on stolen cars as parts as it has become much harder to sell them in one piece, because police have become so much better at tracking them down. 
In 2009 a total of 9,289 cars were reported stolen in Austria, which prompted the government to set up the SOKO in Eisenstadt to investigate car thefts. This is their biggest case so far. 

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EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department