Hamburg: compensation? Locker burglary goes to court

damages? Locker burglary goes to court

A branch of the Hamburger Sparkasse. photo

© Jonas Walzberg/dpa

It’s a coup like in the cinema: criminals use a huge drill to break into the locker room of a savings bank and steal millions. Now the court is about damages for the bank customers.

Almost a year and a half after a spectacular burglary in a branch of the Hamburger Sparkasse (Haspa) with damage in the double-digit millions, the dispute over damages comes before the court in March.

An order by the Hamburg Regional Court last Friday (January 20) states that the chamber considers the security measures in the vault to be inadequate after a preliminary assessment. The agreement on the limitation of liability in the conditions for renting the lockers should therefore not stand up to scrutiny.

In August 2021, unknown perpetrators used a heavy core drill to break through a concrete ceiling into the locker room from an apartment above the Haspa branch in Norderstedt, Schleswig-Holstein, and broke open about half of the more than 1,200 compartments. An extensive search including searches in Berlin and a contribution to the ZDF program “Aktenzeichen XY… unsolved” has so far failed to bring the police on the trail of the perpetrators.

Lawyer Jürgen Hennemann, who is currently representing six plaintiffs, named a total loss of around 40 million euros on Tuesday. Haspa, on the other hand, continues to speak of damage amounting to eleven million euros. According to Hennemann, the liability was limited to 40,000 euros per locker under the conditions of the financial institution.

The security systems in the vault of the Haspa branch in Norderstedt were state-of-the-art at the time of the burglary, said Haspa spokeswoman Stefanie von Carlsburg on Tuesday. “This assessment has not changed with the preliminary assessment of the factual and legal situation by the Hamburg Regional Court.” Haspa will therefore first examine and analyze the reasoning of the court. There was no further statement from the company on Tuesday with reference to the ongoing proceedings.

In its preliminary assessment, the regional court pointed out that the motion detector had not triggered an alarm when the perpetrators were in the vault. Lawyer Hennemann spoke of a motion detector “at the hardware store level”. From the Chamber’s point of view, Haspa would have had reason to review and improve the security of the vault in Norderstedt after an earlier, similar but unsuccessful burglary attempt in a branch in Hamburg-Altona.


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