Riding the subway in Berlin is always an experience. People make music, collect money or make speeches, they transport bulky objects, force bicycles and dogs into the carriages and prepare for the upcoming party with Wegbier or Rotkäppchen champagne. For a few weeks now there has been a new reason to be amazed. Anyone waiting for the U6 or U3 on the overcrowded platforms will find out from the information boards why the train is currently only running very irregularly, even during rush hour. “As a result of cable theft” namely.
What sounds like a joke that users of the Berlin subway thought up after their fourth beer has a serious background: cables have been stolen from the Berlin public transport company (BVG) on a large scale for some time. According to SZ information, there have been more than a hundred cases this year alone, with the damage amounting to more than one million euros.
Most recently, the U6 line, which runs in the busy city center, was hit. Thieves stole the power cables from the Rehberge station on November 24th. The result: The U6 only ran every ten to 20 minutes for weeks. The U3 line is now partially closed. There are a total of 140 meters of cable missing between the Freie Universität, Thielplatz and Oskar-Helene-Heim stations, which have to be replaced and re-laid, with the usual consequences for annoyed Berliners.
The thieves know exactly which cables current is flowing through
But who comes up with such an idea? A spokesman for the BVG explains that people who know about the high prices for non-ferrous metals. Copper cables are always stolen, “unfortunately the phenomenon has increased.” Experts suspect organized crime is behind the thefts because the perpetrators are extremely systematic. Both above-ground and underground cables are stolen; the thieves know exactly which cables current is flowing through and which are not.
The topic is now also a concern for Berlin politics. Cable theft is just one reason why subways and buses in Berlin are currently running so irregularly. The others are a lack of staff and the many absences due to illness. Antje Kapek from the Berlin Greens thinks these are “hard times” for the BVG and the passengers, who also called on the black-red Senate to increase the pressure to investigate and wants a special commission of the Berlin police.
Meanwhile, the BVG is sending property guards with thermal imaging devices to track down suspicious people on the tracks and is looking for an expert “for the prevention of cable theft on the subway (f/m/d)” to “responsibly manage and monitor everyone Tasks relating to cable thefts on the subway,” as one job advertisement stated. Full-time or part-time, with a salary between 4469.31 and 4929.41 euros. The BVG says the filling process for the position has not yet been completed. At least the repair work on the U3 was completed earlier than planned and the train has been running regularly again since Wednesday last week.