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 probes claim spyware targeted law firms and banks

Austria said Friday that it was investigating a report that an Austrian company developed spyware targeting law firms, banks and consultancies in at least three countries.

Austria probes claim spyware targeted law firms and banks

Microsoft’s security team earlier this week said it found that a malware called Subzero — developed by Vienna-based company DSIRF — was deployed in 2021 and 2022.

“Observed victims to date include law firms, banks and strategic consultancies in countries such as Austria, the United Kingdom and Panama,” it wrote in a blog entry on Wednesday.

Austria’s interior ministry said it had not received reports of any incidents.

READ ALSO: Austria wary of cyber attacks after personal data of foreign residents leaked online

“Of course, (intelligence agency) DSN checks the allegations. So far, there is no proof of the use of spy software from the company mentioned,” it said in a statement.

Austria’s Kurier newspaper cited DSIRF as saying that Subzero had not been misused and “was developed exclusively for use by authorities in EU states” and was not commercially available.

DSIRF did not immediately return a request for comment from AFP.

Austria’s interior ministry said it knew of the company but “has not had any business relationships” with it.

Last year several media outlets reported that governments around the world, including in the EU, had used Pegasus spyware made by Israel’s NSO Group to spy on opponents.

Budapest and Warsaw responded that the use of Pegasus was for legitimate national security reasons.