• hc/ dl / barfi
  • Aktualisiert am

Local News Summary of December, 19th

  • Trial about fake bomb threat and theft in Pratteln
  • Fake police officers in Basel: First arrests and damages in the millions
  • Man with packed moving boxes asks for shelter at police station

Trial about fake bomb threat and theft in Pratteln

A verdict is expected today in the case of a Möbel Pfister employee in Pratteln who faked a bomb threat in order to cover up her stealing money from the company.

The 37-year-old woman appeared yesterday at the Criminal Court of Baselland charged with theft, making a false alarm, causing public fear, document fraud, and misleading the administration of justice.

The former manager showed remorse as she confessed to most of the crimes – many of which she said had been “sudden, irrational acts”.

According to the bill of indictment, the accused took 101,500 Swiss francs as well as 515 Euros out of the company safe on the evening of 28 December 2015. The safe also contained revenue earned over the week because the accused woman had postponed making a cash deposit. She then took the money home and deposited it in a rented cellar the following day, the court was told.

At noon on 29 December, she told her boss that someone had called and threatened to detonate a bomb at the Möbel Pfister site. Consequently, the building was evacuated and search dogs were brought in to search the premises for a suspect item. The local police cordoned off the entrances to the Grüssen area (which contains various shops and is near to a motorway exit) for several hours.

Accused “lied to superiors and to the police”

The woman told the court yesterday said that she did not expect her fake bomb threat to cause such a great reaction. It had “only” been her goal to cancel the cash transaction scheduled to take place on 29 December 2015 so that her theft would not be discovered.

Her intention was to use the bomb threat to buy her enough time to bring back the money. However, instead of doing this, she then hid the money in another rented cellar in the evening of 29 December. She told the court she had panicked.

When staff at Möbel Pfister realised the following day that the money had been stolen, the accused told her boss that she had already found the safe “empty and open” on the morning the day before. According to the bill of indictment, she made the same statement to the police on several occasions.

It was not until the middle of January 2016 that she confessed her crime at a coercive measures tribunal. In the meantime, investigations had revealed that there had been no anonymous call about a bomb threat at Möbel Pfister in December 2015. The woman was fired on the spot.

During house searches, about 60,000 francs of the stolen sum was found. The accused said that she had spent the rest in casinos, on shopping, and paying bills.

Fake police officers in Basel: First arrests and damages in the millions

Three suspected telephone scammers, who had impersonated police officers with fake phone numbers and obtained money through fraud, have been arrested in Basel-Stadt. However, there are still reports of up to a hundred such calls every day – the fraud sum is nearly in the millions.

According to police, this method of fraud has reached an unmatched height over the past few weeks: With so-called “spoofing”, scammers imitate real (police) phone numbers and call unsuspecting people. They address their victims in well-spoken German and try to convince them that their money and valuables are at risk. The fraudsters tell their victims that the only way to secure them is by handing them over to “police officers”, sometimes just as a deposit without any personal contact.

Some of the people who are called have fallen for this trap: According to a statement issued on Monday, the public prosecution of Basel-Stadt estimates the current damage sum at almost a million francs in the canton of Basel-Stadt alone. This is most likely not the entire sum, a spokesperson said – because some of the victims feel ashamed and would rather not tell. The real sum must be much higher.

The three arrested people are three Macedonians aged between 29 and 54 years. They will be handed over to the coercive measures tribunal, which will make a decision on detention. But even after these arrests, the cases of fraud continue in the same manner. The police assumes that several groups must be at work in this current wave of phone scamming.

Man with packed moving boxes asks for shelter at police station

A curious incident happened early on Monday morning in Weil am Rhein. At 2.30am, the bell of the local police station rang. The officer on duty opened the door and encountered a man with several boxes.

When asked for his reasons of being there, the visitor explained that the police were most likely looking for him. An analysis revealed this statement to be true: There is an arrest warrant against the 61-year-old man on the grounds of violation of maintenance obligation. The prison sentence was set at one year and six months. The man had expected this, which is why he had packed and brought his entire household with him. The police officers put the moving boxes in the station cellar, took the 61-year-old man into custody and then to prison later on Monday morning.