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Germany: Police officer fired for stealing 180 kg of cheddar

July 2, 2024

When a truck loaded with cheddar cheese overturned in a traffic accident in Germany, the police officer assigned to secure the scene scooped up the cargo. He has lost a court appeal against his subsequent dismissal.

Cheddar cheese
The officer said he personally does not eat cheddar, a cheese that is not that commonly available in gouda-loving GermanyImage: Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/dpa/picture alliance

A police officer in Germany lost his job after stealing about 180 kilograms of cheddar cheese from an overturned truck following an accident.

The Rhineland-Palatinate Higher Administrative Court on Tuesday rejected the man's appeal, meaning the decision to dismiss him stands.

What was the policeman charged with?

The officer worked for the highway patrol and was assigned to secure the scene of an accident, the court said.

"He drove a police minibus close to the damaged truck, opened the sliding side door of the police bus and asked the employee of a salvage company working there to hand him several undamaged packages of cheese from the refrigerated container," the court explained in a statement.

A total of nine packages of cheese were taken, each weighing 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds). The stolen cheddar cheese was valued at €554 (roughly $595).

"The defendant took some of the packages back to the office," the statement said. It is believed that he also kept some for himself and his friends and relatives.

What makes cheddar cheese a worldwide favorite?

What did the officer say?

In the complaint, the officer explained that the cheese was worth practically nothing because of the break in the cold chain and that he wanted to save it from being destroyed. The man also said he did not eat cheddar cheese himself.

However, the court disagreed, saying the man had committed theft while on duty in uniform and with his service weapon.

"With this behavior, the defendant seriously damaged the reputation of the country's police force," the court said.

It was irrelevant that the cheese was of relatively low value, the court added, saying that it was the officer's duty to prevent the theft.

dh/msh (dpa, epd)