Solar parks are being robbed throughout Europe

by Tobias Stahl on 31.05.2021
When night falls, there is no peace and quiet between the solar panels in German solar parks. In addition to birds and deer, thieves are also increasingly hanging around there.

Unfortunately, where there is expensive equipment, thieves are often not far away. It is no different in solar parks: For some time now, solar parks all over Europe have been haunted by gangs, some of them organized. They do not shy away from unconventional diversionary maneuvers.

In solar parks all over Europe, a race is on between man and technology. It is becoming increasingly common for gangs of thieves to steal expensive equipment from the parks, usually at night when it is otherwise quiet there. In January of this year, for example, 20 inverters were stolen from a solar park in Wittstock. The resulting damage amounts to around 50,000 euros. In January, inverters worth 70,000 euros were also stolen from the Zepel solar park. In the Atzendorf solar park, cable drums and emergency power generators were recently missing, and 40 inverters were also stolen from the Glaubitz solar park in March. And such incidents are no longer rare in other European countries either, reports the Austrian news portal Der Standard.

The fact that the perpetrators are often not caught, even though the heists usually last several hours and the solar parks are monitored by camera, is due to the fact that they are excellently prepared: When the thieves have overcome the most dangerous zone between the fence and the panels, it is difficult for the security forces to spot them on one of the many screens. To do this, the criminals crawl or crawl across the field, dismount the loot and have accomplices, for example, drag it outside on ropes from outside the security fence.

Although the cameras are getting better and better, they must not be over-sensitive, as birds, deer or wild boars are often on the move on the grounds at night. Too many false alarms would be just as much of a hindrance in the fight against crime as too few, as genuine alarms could then be overlooked.

Court-appointed experts such as Markus Piendl are currently working in Austria to test the safety systems by trying to overcome them. The fact that Piendl and his colleagues not only crawl across the site on all fours, but also disguise themselves with a small fir tree or a wild boar mask, shows that the criminals leave no stone unturned.

René Steinkellner, founder of the security technology company Styx, explained to Standard what happens to the solar components once they have been successfully stolen: According to the report, the stolen panels and inverters often go to Eastern Europe and from there to Africa. “Installations in Italy and Spain are often robbed, so the problem is already big there,” Steinkellner explains.

The major insurance companies have also long been aware of the problem, and accordingly they now require certain security standards before insuring a solar farm. But the cat-and-mouse game is still likely to go on for a while.

Translated from the original: loaded 01.06.2021

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