Germany’s mystery “autobahn sniper” terrorised motorists for five years and baffled police. He fired more than 700 shots at passing vehicles, caused serious accidents and almost fatally wounding a woman driver who was hit in the throat by one of his bullets.
But yesterday German Federal Criminal Police said they had finally caught up with the gunman after mounting a massive search operation that involved installing car number plate detection devices across Germany, the use of decoy lorries and the offer of a €100,000 (£85,000) reward.
Police said a 57-year-old lorry driver who was apprehended in the Eifel region of western Germany at the weekend had admitted carrying out the attacks and had shown them the private arsenal of weapons he used.
The sniper specialised in shooting from his lorry cab at traffic coming towards him down the opposite lane of the autobahn. In 2009, a woman was seriously injured after being hit in the throat by one of his rounds as she was driving near the city of Würzburg.
Police said the sniper’s favourite targets were new cars being transported on the backs of lorries. The bullet holes in the vehicles were almost always discovered at the end of the journey, long after the gunman had fired at them.
Police said that hidden devices which enabled them to log the number plates of millions of vehicles had enabled them to reconstruct the journeys taken by the vehicles which were shot at. On Sunday, the collated data finally led them to the gunman.