• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Cross-border gangs blamed for jump in German break-ins
File photo: DPA

Cross-border gangs blamed for jump in German break-ins

The Local · 30 Mar 2016, 14:00

Published: 30 Mar 2016 11:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Mar 2016 14:00 GMT+02:00

The number of home break-ins reported to police grew to 167,136 from 152,123, the paper reported – a leap of 9.9 percent up to the highest level it has been in 20 years.

While the figure has been climbing steadily since the late 2000s, the change from 2014 to 2015 was much larger than the previous year.

Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia saw the largest increases, at 20.2 and 18.1 percent respectively.

Increasing numbers of thefts from people's homes were described as "worrying" by Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière when he presented the 2014 figures last May.

Police who spoke anonymously to Die Welt said they believe many of the culprits belong to organized gangs from eastern Europe who cross borders to commit crimes before fleeing home with their loot.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Investigations Agency (BKA) told The Local they would not comment on the leaked figures.

The German Police Union (DPolG) immediately released a statement that thieves often cross German state borders or European national borders to commit crimes, and called for better information-sharing among different police forces.

"It can't be allowed that a criminal gang commits a string of break-ins in Saxony, then travels on to North Rhine-Westphalia and no-one in the police there knows about the previous crimes," DPolG chairman Rainer Wendt said in a statement.

Wendt also called for increased maximum sentences for break-ins to deter potential criminals.

More crime – but a higher proportion solved

The overall number of crimes recorded by police in Germany increased by 4.1 percent to 6.33 million.

It has been higher than six million since 2010 - although in the past ten years the figure has been "relatively consistent," varying by only a couple of percentage points per year, policing policy expert Hans-Gerd Jaschke of the Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR) told The Local.

"The theory that crime is going up can't really be demonstrated" from police figures alone, he added.

Meanwhile, 2015's proportion of cases solved by investigators has increased to 56.3 percent – 1.4 percentage points more than 2014.
 
'Don't rush to judgement'
 
The idea of cross-border gangs is a "completely plausible" one, Professor Jaschke said.

"The likelihood of being caught by police is very low if you disappear immediately," he said.

But Jaschke cautioned against overly simplified interpretations of the figures, noting first that they record reported crimes, rather than actual crime - which could be higher or lower than official numbers.

Secondly, "we have to treat these as local statistics," he insisted.

By drilling down into the reports from each precinct and directorate (the two lowest levels of the police hierarchy), officers can target their resources more effectively, suggested.

That makes more sense than combining all the figures for very different districts, cities and federal states and trying to draw conclusions for policing across all of Germany, Jaschke explained.

Politicians and officers should ask: "Is a drug scene being built up here, or illegal prostitution there, or trading in illegal cigarettes? Then there are concrete requirements to be addressed," Jaschke argued.

That kind of nuance may be lost in the public debate, where calls for tougher sentencing and more police from conservatives and police unions often resonate more strongly.

More asylum and residency infringements

More than 900,000 crimes were attributed to non-citizens in the statistics – an increase of almost half over the previous year.

Factoring out crimes related to people's asylum claims and residency rights cuts that figure to 555,820.

Some of those status- and border-related crimes increased especially quickly, with the number of illegal entries into Germany reaching 154,188 – an increase of more than 210 percent over 2014.

Story continues below…

There was also an increase of 157 percent in infringements against asylum or residency law, to 402,741.

The statistics do not confirm fears that migrants and refugees in Germany would commit large numbers of sexual crimes.

In fact, the total number of rapes and sexual assaults reported to police fell in 2015 by 4.4 percent, to 7,022.

This is another figure that must be treated with caution, as a large proportion of women who fall victim to such crimes do not report them.

"Women who don't want to endanger their family or who have many other reasons may shy away from the police," Professor Jaschke said.

He noted that only when the sexual assaults and robberies committed by members of a large crowd of largely north African and Middle Eastern men in Cologne and other large cities on New Year's Eve were widely reported in the media did large numbers of women come forward to the police.

Concern about sexual assault has grown in Germany since the events of New Year's Eve.

Many citizens equipped themselves with pepper spray and blank-firing pistols, while there were moves online to organize "Bürgerwehr" (citizens' defence) vigilante groups in some cities, an idea firmly condemned by police.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Germany says 'won't let anyone take Europe from us'
Steinmeier called the European Union “a successful project of peace and stability”. Photo: DPA

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday that the EU would weather the shock of the British vote to leave the union as he convened crisis talks.

Brexit vote
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
A sign in Berlin's tech giant and startup-building company Rocket Internet. Photo: DPA.

London is currently thought of as the main hub for startups in Europe, but that will all turn around when the UK leaves the EU, tech industry experts say.

Brexit vote - Analysis
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
British Leave campaigners celebrate Brexit result. Photo: DPA

Britain leaving the EU means trouble ahead for Germany - and its hardest task will be convincing the Brits to drop a self-defeating ideology, a leading foreign policy expert told The Local.

How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Photo: DPA.

Considering a change of passport after the UK's vote to ditch the EU? Here’s how to do it.

Germany makes fracking verboten
A sign in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA.

German lawmakers approved a law that essentially bans fracking, ending years of dispute over the controversial technology to release oil and gas locked deep underground.

Brexit vote
German far right 'cries for joy' after UK votes to leave EU
Left to right: AfD's Beatrix von Storch and Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

The far-right AfD party called for a "new Europe" and the resignation of the EU's top two politicians in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity
Angela Merkel at a press conference after the Brexit vote on Friday. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created a "cut in Europe" and the project of European unity.

Couple copulating on bridge shut down Autobahn
Kaiserlei Bridge in Frankfurt. Photo: Dontworry / Wikimedia Commons.

It was a highly unusual choice of location for a romantic rendezvous, police in Frankfurt point out.

Brexit vote
Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'
A British flag along with other flags of European Union member countries flies in front of the European Council building in Strasbourg, France. Photo: EPA.

Top German leaders declared that it was a "sad day for Europe" after British voters opted to leave the European Union.

Viernheim hostage-taker wasn't carrying lethal weapon
A police officer stands guard in front of the cinema in Viernheim. Photo: DPA

The 19-year-old German man who took over a dozen people hostage in a cinema in western Germany on Thursday was carrying replica weapons, prosecutors have confirmed.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Gallery
7 photos which show the aftermath of Bavaria's Autobahn bridge collapse
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sport
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
7,910
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd