Friday 26 May 2006

hamburg umsonst

In this Tuesday's Good Living section of the Sydney Morning Herald I read a hilarious tidbit under World Fare:
"[In Hamburg, Germany] a gang is stealing luxury food items and dispersing them among Germany's new underclass - interns, poorly paid workers and individuals on welfare schemes. The 'Robin Hood gang' wears carnival masks during its raids and is fond of Valrhona chocolate. It knows its produce - one reported theft included a slab of Australian wagyu."

After Googling this story I found articles in various world media. It seems the gang Hamburg Umsonst is comprised of approximately 30 people who swarm into shops, using their numbers to create confusion and the necessary distraction needed to swipe the food. Ironically a reporter from The Guardian was able to track them down even though German police still haven't found them.

Deutsche Welle – 8 May
The group, which calls itself "Hamburg Umsonst" -- loosely translated as Hamburg Without Charge, has apparently graduated from handing out flyers with tips on how to forge cinema tickets and travel illegally on public transport to raiding the swankiest stores and delicatessens before distributing their swag to the city's poor.
Their most high profile job to date came last week. Dressed in an array of comic book hero costumes, the gang raided a well-to-do eatery in the north German port city last Friday during work hours and absconded with a large amount of fine food - after posing for a publicity photograph with bemused staff. Hamburg cops called to the crime scene drew a blank despite deploying 14 patrol cars and a police helicopter.

The Scotsman – 9 May
After they plundered Kobe beef fillets, champagne and smoked salmon from a gourmet store on the exclusive Elbastrasse, they presented the cashier with a bouquet of flowers before making their getaway.

The Independent – 9 May
They dress up in pink catsuits, have names like "Spider Mum" and feel a social obligation to plunder the most expensive restaurants and gourmet delicatessens in town as part of a campaign to help the poor.
Last week the well-heeled citizens of Hamburg's Altona district got a taste of their antics when 30 of them marched into the city's luxury "Fresh Paradise Goedeken" supermarket and walked out five minutes later with €15,000 [AUD$ 25,300] worth of stolen goods.
The gang's booty included magnums of Champagne at €99 [AUD$167] a bottle, filets of Japanese Kobe beef at €108 [AUD$182] a kilogram, legs of venison, a salmon and several boxes of Valrhona chocolate.

The Guardian – 17 May
Standing inside his delicatessen, Carsten Sievers gestures forlornly to where the giant Spanish cheese used to sit. "They took it," he says, pointing to an empty shelf. "They also took my Ruinart champagne. It costs €99 [AUD$167] a bottle. Fortunately, my vintage wines were all locked up. . . They took a whole slab of Australian Wagyu Kobe beef. It cost €108 [AUD$182]," says Sievers. "The cows had been specially massaged. We also have some very fine cheese here from Philippe Olivier. He's a very tough and famous cheesemaker. They took that too." [Incidentally, The Guardian voted Philippe Olivier's Vieux Boulogne the smelliest cheese in the world in 2004]. A year ago, members burst into a Michelin-starred restaurant [Süllberg] in Blakenese, a posh Hamburg suburb overlooking the Elbe, favoured by the rich and famous. Around 20 protesters wearing carnival masks marched into the restaurant ballroom and emptied the entire buffet into plastic bags. They then ran off.

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