Thieves Cashing in on Stolen Clunkers in Germany
Germany's cash for clunkers program is just as popular as the one here in the US--in fact, there are a lot of parallels between the two. Back in January when it first debuted, Germany's program was such an unexpected success that it too ran out of funds and had to be approved for more. And like the program stateside, it has its share of critics for not doing enough to cut back on emissions. Unlike the program in the US, however, German thieves have stolen over 50,000 of the clunkers turned in for cash, shipped them out of the country, and given them another chance to pollute on the roads of Africa, Eastern Europe, and sometimes even Germany.See, there was one key oversight that's turned out to seriously hinder the German cash for clunkers, and that's the absence of a rule making sure the clunker gets scrapped. The US law requires that dealers destroy the clunkers' engines by injecting them with sodium silicate before they can claim the rebate for the car. In Germany, dealerships just have to drop the cars off at a junkyard. Which didn't take long to give some savvy crime syndicates an idea.
According to the NY Times:
Up to 50,000 clunkers have whistled past the automotive graveyard in Germany and found new life elsewhere, according to Ronald Schulze, an expert with the Association of Criminal Investigators, a professional group of police sleuths. Experienced thieves, he said in an interview on Friday, discovered "a market opportunity."Which of course means that the heavily polluting cars are still emitting pollutants as usual, just in different parts of the world--essentially voiding the emissions reduction element of the popular plan. And a solution needs to be found--Germany approved a total of $7 billion dollars to keep the program running (more than twice the funding than that of the far smaller United States) so there's likely to be a lot more clunkers making their way to the scrapheaps.