Berlin is on fire - or, at least, its cars are.
Authorities in the German capital are increasingly concerned about a savage spate of apparently apolitical arson attacks on cars in the city, reports Euronews.
Forty vehicles were set ablaze in Berlin between Monday night and Thursday morning in the German capital. The recent attacks have more than doubled the number of arson attacks on cars in the city during 2010. In total 147 cars have been destroyed by arsonists in Berlin this year - 63 of them in August this year alone.
Previously in the city, firebombings of luxury cars and SUVs have been blamed on left-wing extremists, but the recent attacks appear much more random. The targeted cars are not all expensive new models, and the suburbs in which the attacks occurred range from working-class to uppercrust. Police are unable to say for certain whether the fires are politically motivated or 'merely' vandalism - but the current balance of probability leans towards vandalism by a single person or group. A 5000-Euro reward has been posted for information leading to arrests.
Arson attacks are a regular trend in Berlin. In 2009, 32 Arson attacks on vehicles destroyed 48 cars. In 2008, a total of 68 attacks took place.
The recent attacks typically use a barbecue starter pack placed under the vehicle near a tyre to set the car alight.
In response, 100 police and a helicopter are deployed each night specifically to combat the crime wave. However, Berlin is a city of some 3.5 million inhabitants with about one million cars parked along its 5000km of roadways. Blanket surveillance is, therefore, impossible.