Police investigation Is there a series of arson attacks on mobile phone masts in Bonn?

Bonn · Since the end of 2019, several mobile phone masts in Bonn have caught fire. Bonn police are investigating a connection. At present, they do not consider ideology to be the reason behind the fires.

The transmission mast at the Sportpark Nord caught fire on 19 April. Police believe the fire was started deliberately.

The transmission mast at the Sportpark Nord caught fire on 19 April. Police believe the fire was started deliberately.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

It appears that a series of arson attacks have been carried out on transmission masts in Bonn. There have been at least five in the city in recent months. The police are investigating whether there is a connection between the attacks and are also “in discussion with other authorities and the state criminal investigation department”, said spokesman Michael Beyer in response to a GA inquiry. But the investigators so far remain in the dark: Although there are no indications of interregional perpetrators, there are no other hot leads as yet. The reason behind the attacks is also unclear.

As previously reported, the transmitter mast on the grounds of the Sportpark Nord caught fire on 19 April. The police assume that the fire was started deliberately. The same applies to attacks on the facilities in Schweinheim and at the Heiderhof. The mast, situated at the end of the street Im Hohn on the edge of the Kottenforst, was destroyed by fire shortly before Christmas Eve. At the Heiderhof there were three fires in the space of a few weeks, most recently at the beginning of January.

Although it was not yet an issue at the end of 2019, the question has now been raised that the fire on Kölnstrasse could have been an attack by conspiracy theorists. In several European countries, including Great Britain and the Netherlands, a connection has been established between the outbreak of the corona pandemic and the expansion of the 5G mobile phone network. This led to attacks on mobile phone masts. At present, however, the police are not assuming a similar case in Bonn. One reason for this is the lack of confession letters that were provided in the anti-5G motivated attacks.

The IT industry association Bitkom notes an ambivalent attitude of the Germans towards 5G. In a survey commissioned by Bitkom, almost one in two (48 percent) spoke out against the erection of further mobile phone masts, but just as many voted in favour of them. 43 percent would want to start a citizen’s protest if radio masts were planned in their vicinity. According to Bitkom, one in five (22 percent) is in favour of the expansion of the mobile telephone network but does not want to see a mast near their own home or property.

Speculations about the cause

And how do the users of the mobile phone masts assess the situation in Bonn? Apart from the regional clustering in the city area, “we are not seeing an increase in vandalism at our locations,” says Benedikt Albers, spokesman for the Deutsche Telekom subsidiary Deutsche Funkturm GmbH (DFMG). Vandalism at the facilities is rare, “but it has happened before”. He added that one could only speculate about the causes. So far, however, the DFMG has not been aware of a single case in recent years “that can be clearly attributed to a perpetrator who is critical of mobile communications”, Albers said.

At the recent fire in the Nordstadt, which had no effect on the Vodafone network, there were no signs of an arson attack, says spokesman Volker Petendorf. Vandalism is the keyword. Vandalism is reported to occur “in many different places in Germany every day”. This includes schools, club houses and train stations. Mobile phone masts were only affected in very rare cases. At present, no further cases have been found at the 25,000 Vodafone sites in Germany. Jörg Borm, spokesman for Telefónica Germany, agrees: Arson attacks are very rare, the majority of cases are caused by vandalism. “But there's no increase in Germany”. He was not able to comment on events in individual regions “for reasons related to the investigation”.

(Original text: Ayla Jacob, Translation: Caroline Kusch

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