The authorities in the German capital Berlin are becoming concerned by a upswing in the number of overnight arson attacks on cars. Between Monday night and the early hours of Thursday morning nearly 40 vehicles were set alight.
In the past some attacks on luxury cars and big four wheel drives in Berlin and Hamburg have been blamed on left wing extremists.
The police said they are not sure if the latest torchings are politically motivated or just straight vandalism.
The targets appear to be chosen at random, not particularly new expensive models, in areas varying from wealthy neighbourhoods like Charlottenburg in west Berlin to working-class suburbs like Neu-Hohenschoenhausen in the east.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she believed Germany would be spared British-style riots but was “very troubled” by the arson attacks in Berlin. “What kind of behaviour is this?” she asked. “People’s lives are being put at risk in cold blood.”
Victim Lothar Andres said: “My car is 11 years old. It’s not worth anything. I’m 72 years old and this should have been my last car.”
The number of vehicles burned in Berlin so far this year is already more than the double the total for all of last year.
There are extra police patrols to try to catch the arsonists and a 5,000 euro reward have been offered for information leading to arrests.