BONN/MECKENHEIM A Bonn court has sentenced a 29-year-old asylum seeker to a fine of 750 euros for theft. He and family members had picked 190 kilos of apples at an orchard in Meckenheim - to distribute them in refugee homes.
The idea came to the father of a Syrian family on a Sunday morning: Come, let's go to Meckenheim and do a good deed. There were orchards where you could take the apples with you, he believed. These were then to be distributed to "the brothers and sisters in the refugee homes". They drove from Bonn to Meckenheim with bags and a picnic basket and picked a total of 190 kilos of Braeburn apples, which had ripened after the first harvest.
They collected them - apparently somewhat improperly - in supermarket bags. While they were picking and packing the apples, the family was caught by the fruit farmer and his wife. They had loaded 300 euros worth of apples into their car.
For four members of the family, the nice idea resulted in legal consequences: They had to answer to the Bonn district court on charges of theft. They all regretted that they had unwittingly committed a theft, they were ashamed and were "very sorry" for it. But their father was quite sure that there were apple orchards in Meckenheim where picking was permitted. They did not want to contradict this notion.
Family committed theft unknowingly
The 55-year-old fruit farmer was called as a witness: Even though the first harvest had already been completed, the orchard was by no means open for free picking. When asked by the district judge, he explained that apples were often stolen, "but never on this scale". Most of the time, the illegal pickers come at dawn on Sundays. However, the apple farmer also acknowledged that the accused family had appeared quite comfortable on October 14, 2018, they did not act like thieves who had just been caught committing a crime. They also wanted to pay for the damages immediately.
The fruit farmer and his wife received the apples back immediately. However, according to the 55-year-old, they had only been able to sell the Braeburn apples the family had picked at a much lower price because they had not been harvested carefully enough and had some bruising.
In the end, the Bonn court believed the Syrian family apple pickers that their intentions were good and discontinued the proceedings against the 62-year-old father and two family members. Each had to pay a fine of 100 euros to the fruit farmer. Only a 29-year-old son got off less lightly and was sentenced to 750 euros. Because on the day of the apple theft, he was already serving two probations.
Orig. text: Ulrike Schödel