Zug, 23.02.2021

More than 75,000 attempted thefts

Over a year and a half, a 22-year-old went into underground car parks where, together with accomplices, he broke into cars, causing almost CHF 40,000 of damage, and stole valuables and money. The Zug Criminal Court has thereby sentenced him to three years and four months in prison. But he doesn’t want to accept that.

He didn’t try to defend himself. When the police asked the young man what he had to say about the allegations that led to his arrest man on 14 September, 2017, he confessed everything: "I know I did it. I know I'm guilty. (...) I'm ashamed of it."

This can be read in a judgment from the Zug Criminal Court of 22 December, which was released for public inspection only a few days ago. In it, the three-judge panel sentenced the now 22-year-old to three years and four months in prison. Due to gang and professional theft, multiple damage to property and multiple cases of unlawful entry.

In this case, "multiple" means: a whopping 75,970 attempted thefts, 323 cases of unlawful entry, and 13 cases of property damage committed between January 2016 and July 2017!

Offenders searched car parks for unlocked cars
The reason for the extreme number of theft attempts: Together with an acquaintance, the young man entered underground car parks and car parks in Zug looking for open vehicles. They thereby worked their way through the garages and checked each car for an unlocked door. Every unsuccessful check of a car door is considered to be an attempted theft by the Zug Justice authorities.

If the perpetrators were lucky, and a driver hadn’t locked his car, the two entered the vehicle and searched for objects they could steal. But even locked car doors did not deter the 22-year-old and his accomplice: On their thieves' tours through the car parks of the canton of Zug, the accused repeatedly cut open convertible rooftops with a knife or a saw. And in February 2016, his partner, against whom the Zug prosecutors are conducting a separate trial, used a stone to smash the window of an Opel parked in a private underground car park in the city of Zug.

The young man also broke into cars in the underground car park in the Metalli shopping centre.
Photo: Stefan Kaiser (Zug, 16 February 2021)

The 75,970 attempted thefts were accompanied by 22 successful thefts, in which the accused and his accomplice stole cash and items worth almost CHF 9,500. In one case, they stole around CHF 350 francs from an unlocked BMW parked in the Metalli underground garage. And the pair got their hands on more than CHF 800 of loot when they cut open the roof of an Audi convertible and fished a wallet out of the car, along with the car keys and a bottle of perfume.

They also stole children's purses
43 pages of the 117-page judgment are used to list the offences and give a brief description of the individual acts. It turns out that whenever the two perpetrators came across something valuable, they stole it. Even if it was a colourful children's purse or only CHF 20 in Reka checks, as they found in a Peugeot convertible in an underground car park in Baar.

In addition to the CHF 9,500 of criminal damage, there was also CHF 36,574 in property damage. They were obviously particularly fond of a garage in the Feldhof district of Zug, which they broke onto as many as 48 times. Their nightly trips, which the accused said they only carried out at weekends, also took them to Steinhausen and Baar, including the car park of the Zug Cantonal Hospital.

The accused, who has given up on two apprenticeships and now works temporarily as a craftsman, earned about CHF 700 a month in February 2017. The young man told the prosecutor's office that the thefts had given him a relatively regular income. In its ruling, the Zug Criminal Court thereby considered this to be an admission of professional theft – even though the 22-year-old testified that he had started breaking into cars for fun.

Criminal record for robbery, theft, drug offences
According to the published verdict, the young man had already made acquaintance with the Zug Justice before his arrest on 14 September 2017. On 4 July of the same year, the Youth Court sentenced him to a conditional prison sentence of 21 months for theft, multiple attempted robbery, illegal entry and violations of the Weapons and Narcotics Act.

With its present verdict, the criminal court refrained from revoking the sentence handed down conditionally at the time, but did extend the probationary period by one year, however.

The judges interpreted the confession of the accused as a positive factor. This is "significant." Had he not admitted his actions, an indictment could not have been drawn up -  "never and in no way," the judges noted. By the time the criminal court reached its verdict, the young man had already spent 665 days in pre-trial detention and pre-sentence. As he was sentenced to 40 months in prison, this means that he still has to go to prison for about one and a half years.

But only if things remain as they are. The sentence goes far beyond the ten-month prison sentence requested by the defence counsel. The 22-year-old's lawyer thereby filed an appeal just two days after the verdict was handed down.