Creepy ‘plait thief’ strikes again in Styria

Police are appealing for witnesses after a strange man cut off a seven-year-old’s long plaited hair as she was on her way to school in eastern Styria last week.

Creepy 'plait thief' strikes again in Styria
File photo: Shutterstock

Police fear that a man known locally as the “Zopfabschneider” (plait cutter) is back after going quiet for a few years. In April 2011 there were several reported incidents of a man aged between 40 and 50, who spoke the local dialect, approaching young girls and snipping off their plaits.

He was described as balding, with short grey hair and stubble. He was dressed in a black jacket with a neon green lining and blue jeans. He also wore a black woolen hat edged with blue, and brown shoes.

In the latest incident a seven-year-old girl and her nine-year-old brother were on their way to school in Bad Gleichenberg at 7.15am on Thursday when a man aged between 40 and 50 approached them, spoke to them, and walked down the road with them.

As they passed the tourism school he took a pair of silver scissors out of his jacket and cut off the little girl’s plait. He then ran away, and the children ran to school and reported what had happened.

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Austria to seize cars from illegal road racers

Austria announced plans on Monday to toughen legislation looking to curb illegal street races in the country including the seizure of vehicles.

Austria to seize cars from illegal road racers

“If you don’t have a car anymore, you can’t race”, Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) said on Monday, when the government announced plans to toughen legislation against illegal street racing. 

According to the government’s plans, drivers in Austria who are found guilty of extreme speeding will have their cars seized and auctioned off. The administration wants to deter what they called “boy racers” by threatening to take away their prize possession.

For many speedsters, their cars become “part of their identity”, the minister said.

“There is a speed at which the car becomes a weapon,” Gewessler said. The cars would be taken away from speeders “immediately and permanently”.

The government said they are trying to bring illegal street races and other cases of extreme speeding under control. They may seem rare in Austria, but they cause deaths, sometimes involving innocent bystanders.

READ ALSO: Austrian citizenship: Can you be rejected because of a driving offence?

If someone drives more than 60 kilometres per hour above the speed limit within a local area – or 70 kilometres per hour outside it – the car will, in future, be confiscated by the police directly on the spot. The driver’s licence will also be taken away.

Within two weeks, the respective district administrative authorities will then check whether it is a repeat offence. If there has already been an extreme speeding offence in the past, the vehicle will be taken away and auctioned off.

If someone drives more than 80 or 90 kilometres per hour above the speed limit, the car will be confiscated permanently on the first offence.

“At the speeds we’re talking about here, no one is in control on the roads anymore.” Gewessler expects 400 to 450 people a year to lose their vehicles.

READ ALSO: Does Austria have a street car racing problem?

In addition to confiscation, the Driving Licence Act stipulates that in case of a speeding offence of more than 40 km/h in urban areas or 50 km/h outside urban areas, the driving licence must, in any case, be temporarily confiscated. 

With this, even if the car is leased or borrowed (which would prevent authorities from confiscating and auctioning it off), the racer will nevertheless not be allowed to drive.

Once the cars are auctioned off, 70 percent of the proceeds will go to the Road Safety Fund and 30 percent to the relevant local authority. Forfeiture of an impounded vehicle is in addition to a fine.