German police have caught a Polish thief driving a stolen car that belonged to Thomas de Maiziere, the interior minister and head of Germany's domestic security.
Police confirmed on Thursday a radio-station report that an Audi A4 Avant car, normally used by the minister's 22-year-old daughter, was sighted the previous evening on a highway close to the Polish border.
Police gave chase and the 33-year-old driver abandoned the car in a highway rest area.
Police caught him a short distance away, according to the Bild newspaper, which has repeatedly highlighted cases of thieves who move German cars across the open border into Poland.
The car had been stolen Tuesday evening in the eastern German city of Dresden.
Lausitz Valley police spokesman Marcel Wita said police were not patrolling specifically for the minister's car, but because of a tip-off that stolen cars would be on the move while millions of Germans watched their team play Spain in a World Cup football semifinal.
Many Germans believe that most car thefts are the work of Poland-based criminals. That perception upsets Poles, and is part of a web of resentment that has strained relations between the two groups. Some Germans have recently called for the border to be sealed.
Coincidentally, de Maiziere, who heads the federal police and intelligence services, had observed a police crackdown on car thieves late last month at the same rest area where his own car was later recovered.