If you’re expecting a brand-new Volkswagen car to be delivered to you from Germany in the next few weeks, then you might be in for a delay. The firm ships many of its products from the port of Emden in northern Germany, but recently became the victim of a break-in and organized theft that is leaving around a thousand vehicles stranded at the moment. Recently, an estimated 30 to 40 activists from environmental organization Greenpeace broke into the secured compound and proceeded to remove the keys from cars waiting to be driven onto ships for delivery overseas. By the time the police arrived and arrested the perpetrators, an estimated 1,000 keys were missing and the cars they belonged to were stuck. Not only that, the intruders had apparently also nicked the spare keys in the process.
The goal of this criminal act disguised as a protest was seemingly to call for a quicker exit from combustion-engine production at Volkswagen, which Greenpeace accuses of moving too slowly and still building too many diesel- and petrol-powered cars. Maybe the organization isn’t familiar with the way vehicle production cycles work, or maybe it has missed the fact that VW has already set itself a goal of making 1.5 million electric cars by 2025. Either way, the carmaker wasn’t best pleased and has filed charges for trespassing and aggravated theft against the intruders. Leaving cars with the keys in the ignition is not unusual at big shipping facilities like this port, as it speeds up the process of getting them loaded onto ships. Theft normally isn’t an issue as the area is secure, but a mass break-in like this did seemingly overwhelm existing security measures.
Next to stealing keys, activists also unfolded a large yellow banner showing an oil-leaking VW logo, and posed for pictures that were later distributed via the official Greenpeace social media account. The group said:
As the world’s 2nd largest car manufacturer, the @VWGroup must stop selling climate-damaging cars!
According to a video published by two of the protesters, some 1,500 keys are apparently being sent to a place where the results of climate change are especially visible. However, it didn’t elaborate where that is or why such an act was being done.
This isn’t the first time Greenpeace showed bad judgment when carrying out a protest. Back in 2018, the organization covered a large roundabout in Berlin with paint to protest for cleaner energy. As a result, at least one cyclist fell on the wet surface and sustained injuries, while the cleanup cost thousands of euros and used over 100,000L of water. The paint itself also turned out to be less environment-friendly than previously claimed by Greenpeace and ended up being washed into a nearby river. This time, VW estimates the damages to be over €100,000 (P 5.82 million). Police have arrested 14 individuals, but so far only secured fewer than 100 of the missing keys.