Customs dog sniffs out €1.2 million in cash at Düsseldorf Airport

A sniffer dog named Luke has tracked down huge bundles of cash from passengers at Düsseldorf Airport in the last six months.

Customs dog sniffs out €1.2 million in cash at Düsseldorf Airport
Luke the sniffer dog patrolling Düsseldorf Airport. Photo: DPA

The three-year-old German shepherd is the only cash sniffer dog in Germany who is trained to work with humans at airport security, authorities say.

In the last six months since Luke took up his investigations role, he has sniffed out €1.2 million in cash from 21 passengers at the air hub in North-Rhine Westphalia. Luke is specially trained to raise the alarm when he believes someone is carrying big bundles of cash in their suitcase.

SEE ALSO: Man tries to fly from Düsseldorf Airport with €870,000 in cash

It's against the law to pass through Customs with €10,000 or more in cash without declaring it.

According to his trainers, Luke seeks out the cash because he can smell the combination of the printing inks and the paper of the banknotes.

“Every currency smells different,” says dog handler Sabine Mohren. Luke is trained to pick up the scent of euros, US dollars, British pounds and Turkish lira.

Customs dog Luke and dog handler Sabine Mohren at work at Düsseldorf Airport. Photo: DPA

According to EU laws in place since 2007, if passengers enter or leave the EU with €10,000 or more in cash, they must declare it and its origins to Customs.

These regulations are in place to help investigators detect any illegal activity involving high volumes of cash, such as drug trafficking or money laundering.

Cash stuffed between books

Last November, Düsseldorf Airport hit the headlines when a man tried to board a plane carrying almost €870,000 in cash.

On November 10th, police officers at the airport noticed a suitcase with 10 cash packages which were stuffed between books, reported the Customs Investigation Office based in Essen.

The suitcase was owned by a 26-year-old Frenchman, who was planning to travel from Düsseldorf via Russia to China.

Authorities initiated administrative offence proceedings against the man for failure to declare cash on departure. The source of the cash was also being investigated.


Sniffer dog/tracker dog – (der) Spürhund

Cash – (das) Bargeld

To sniff/sniff out- erschnüffelt

Printing ink – (die) Druckfarbe

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

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The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German

Once you've learned the basics of German, listening to podcasts is one of the best ways of increasing vocabulary and speeding up comprehension. Here are some of the best podcasts out there for German learners.

The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German


Coffee Break German

Coffee Break German aims to take you through the basics of German in a casual lesson-like format. It is extremely easy to listen to. Each 20-minute episode acts as a mini-lesson, where German native Thomas teaches Mark Pendleton, the founder and CEO of Coffee Break Languages, the basics.

All phrases are broken down into individual words. After new phrases are introduced the listeners are encouraged to repeat them back to practise pronunciation.

The advantage of listening to this podcast is that the learner, Mark, begins at the same level as you. He is also a former high school French and Spanish teacher. He often asks for clarification of certain phrases, and it can feel as if he is asking the very questions you want answered.

You can also stream the podcast directly from the provider’s website, where they sell a supplementary package from the Coffee Break German Academy, which offers additional audio content, video flashcards and comprehensive lesson notes

German Pod 101

German Pod 101 aims to teach you all about the German language, from the basics in conversations and comprehension to the intricacies of German culture. German Pod 101 offers various levels for your German learning and starts with Absolute Beginner.

The hosts are made up of one German native and one American expat living in Germany, in order to provide you with true authentic language, but also explanations about the comparisons and contrasts with English. This podcast will, hopefully, get you speaking German from day one.

Their website offers more information and the option to create an account to access more learning materials.

Learn German by Podcast

This is a great podcast if you don’t have any previous knowledge of German. The hosts guide you through a series of scenarios in each episode and introduce you to new vocabulary based on the role-plays. Within just a few episodes, you will learn how to talk about your family, order something in a restaurant and discuss evening plans. Each phrase is uttered clearly and repeated several times, along with translations.


Learn German by Podcast provides the podcasts for free but any accompanying lesson guides must be purchased from their website. These guides include episode transcripts and some grammar tips. 


Easy German

This podcast takes the form of a casual conversation between hosts Manuel and Cari, who chat in a fairly free-form manner about aspects of their daily lives. Sometimes they invite guests onto the podcast, and they often talk about issues particularly interesting to expats, such as: “How do Germans see themselves?”. Targeted at young adults, the podcasters bring out a new episode very three or four days.

News in Slow German

This is a fantastic podcast to improve your German listening skills. What’s more, it helps you stay informed about the news in several different levels of fluency.

The speakers are extremely clear and aim to make the podcast enjoyable to listen to. For the first part of each episode the hosts talk about a current big news story, then the second part usually features a socially relevant topic. 

A new episode comes out once a week and subscriptions are available which unlock new learning tools.

SBS German

This podcast is somewhat interesting as it is run by an Australian broadcaster for the German-speaking community down under. Perhaps because ethnic Germans in Australia have become somewhat rusty in their mother tongue, the language is relatively simple but still has a completely natural feel.

There is a lot of news here, with regular pieces on German current affairs but also quite a bit of content looking at what ties Germany and Australia together. This lies somewhere between intermediate and advanced.

A woman puts on headphones in Gadebusch, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Photo: dpa | Jens Büttner


Auf Deutsche gesagt

This is another great podcast for people who have a high level of German. The host, Robin Meinert, talks in a completely natural way but still manages to keep it clear and comprehensible.

This podcast also explores a whole range of topics that are interesting to internationals in Germany, such as a recent episode on whether the band Rammstein are xenophobic. In other words, the podcast doesn’t just help you learn the language, it also gives you really good insights into what Germans think about a wide range of topics.


Bayern 2 present their podcast Sozusagen! for all those who are interested in the German language. This isn’t specifically directed at language learners and is likely to be just as interesting to Germans and foreigners because it talks about changes in the language like the debate over gender-sensitive nouns. Each episode explores a different linguistic question, from a discussion on German dialects to an analysis of political linguistics in Germany.