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Citizen patrols mooted to stop car arsons

The Local · 22 Aug 2011, 09:11

Published: 22 Aug 2011 09:11 GMT+02:00

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The idea for citizen patrols has gained support during the week-long spate of arson in the German capital, which have left dozens of cars, mostly expensive models, burned out.

More than 300 vehicles have now been set alight since the beginning of the year, including five overnight Sunday.

Police have struggled to deal with the crisis, but the city actually assigns more people to give out traffic tickets than track down the car arsonists, according to the daily newspaper Die Welt.

Many people told the newspaper they were ready to join citizens’ groups to combat the attacks, because the government isn’t doing enough.

Some have suggested that neighbours begin carrying weapons and go on the hunt for perpetrators. Others have suggested a less vigilante-style response with simple unarmed neighbourhood patrols.

One 72-year-old who lives with his wife in the Berlin’s Westend district told Die Welt that residents have been debating what to do over the last few days. His idea is for a citizens’ patrol to go out for about an hour per night per night. It would alert police if it sees anything suspicious.

“Some residents here want to arm themselves,” he said. “What we need here is a kind of militia.”

Some people appear to be looking to London as a model, where many community groups lost confidence in police and formed successful vigilante groups to combat recent riots.

In Berlin, Burkhard Dregger, a politician with the centre-right Christian Democratic Union has long called for a special auxiliary police made up of volunteers that would have uniforms, batons and handcuffs.

Story continues below…

But others have raised concerns about the idea, even as they acknowledge that police are struggling.

Klaus Eisenreich of the GdP police union said the local government has “failed” to find a solution. But, he said, bringing an end to the burnings should still be the responsibility of the police.

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:00 August 22, 2011 by wood artist
There can be little doubt that the police would like to stop this, but the very nature of the crime makes it very difficult. Each fire, beyond targeting specific types of cars, is completely random, and in the absence of someone just happening to see a fire started, it's nearly impossible to catch someone. If they see potential witnesses, they just move on, and find a "better place."

The government might not truly like it, but about the only option is for citizens to get involved. I wouldn't advocate being armed, but just watching will deter the crimes, or make it more likely a good suspect description becomes available.

10:52 August 22, 2011 by storymann
wood artist, I totally agree with you.

The citizen groups I am familiar with used 3 people in a vehicle ,one drives , two spot and if an incident arises they use handys to notify police and if possible give detailed information about the perpetrators.

The police would never tolerate armed citizen groups.
12:00 August 22, 2011 by johnny108
This is why America has a "2nd ammendment to the Constitution"- the right to bear arms.

Get caught in a neighborhood trying to set fire to a car- and you will be shot, and the police will say it is the fire-setters' fault.

The right to protect yourself should NEVER be limited.
12:28 August 22, 2011 by Dizz
So you would commit murder, in cold blood deprive someone of life, if you thought they were trying to set fire to a car.
12:32 August 22, 2011 by michael4096
What has shooting a suspected car burner to do with protecting yourself?
12:40 August 22, 2011 by Snapply
America F*** Yeah! Shoot dem fires!
12:41 August 22, 2011 by Englishted

With the crime rates in the U.S.A. I would say it doesn't work.

@Dizz and @michael4096

totally agree.
14:10 August 22, 2011 by LecteurX
Those gun-toting 2nd Amendment supporters get tiresome, jumping as they are on any unrelated topic to promote their crazy ideas. The day when the US has a homicide rate anywhere near the Western European ones, maybe that kind of advice will be worth listening to. But with crime rates 3 times as high as in Europe, such patronising is ridiculously out of place.
14:13 August 22, 2011 by jusplayinwhitcha
while I am a believer in the 2nd amendment, and a responsible gun owner, I don't believe deadly force is the answer here. while your comment may have been made in jest, deadly force should be reserved for self defense or defense of your family. although I don't condone what these people are doing by damaging other hard working peoples property, there would be no true justice in shooting an arsonist unless he or she is setting fire to someones home with the intention of doing bodily harm.

The problem I see with armed citizens is the real chance of innocent people being mistakenly blamed (and beaten or injured) for something they did not do. I think unarmed citizen patrols are okay if you are talking about responsible calm adults as the ones patrolling. if they see anyone suspicious they could contain them, call the police and let them sort it out..while vigilantism appeals to our first emotional response,it would probably create more work for the police than less,taking time away from actually working the case at hand. just my two cents worth
16:22 August 22, 2011 by catjones
There's a TV program in the States where the police set up a bait car to be stolen. It's fitted with cameras, door locks, remote killer switch. Once the perp(s) take the bait they are recorded and followed. The cops kill the engine and lock the doors. Done. Doesn't take much imagination to use similar techniques in berlin, but more imagination than the cops can muster.
16:50 August 22, 2011 by storymann
catjones, Excellent (:
16:51 August 22, 2011 by Sonnenschein030
This is a rather simple matter really. Why waste taxpayer resources on sending more police to the streets? Instead some creative sting operations are a more effective use of taxpayer funds. This is commonly done in high crime areas of other major cities throughout the world. Pretty simple really. Police place a tasty expensive vehicle that these people simply can't resist to burn and sit back to observe. Make a public PR spectacle out of it, so they get the hint any next car they hit could be the one that is a sting operation.
19:02 August 22, 2011 by Wise Up!
Germany pays so much in taxes and what do they get for it? Citizen Patrols? LOL!

When 50% of your income goes to taxes, there should be a cop on every corner!
20:38 August 22, 2011 by finanzdoktor
Do the words "neighborhood watch" sound familiar? Don't have to be armed, and if all neighborhoods pulled together, then the arsonists would have to go elsewhere (possibly leading to more leads on who they are) or stop.
19:58 August 23, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, I do agree with many of you here. Things could certainly be better.

The biggest problem with humanity can be covered in just a few words:

Not nearly enough people care about achieving and maintaining a high standard.
12:08 August 26, 2011 by Chris Bering
A good society needs a culturally homogeneous, conscious and assertive population, where each individual's selfinterest is highly correlated with that of the society at large.

Socialism and its stepchildren - cultural marxism and multiculturalism, destroys this natural fabric of society and tries to replace it with dogma and bureaucracy-driven social engineering.

As society starts to break down, homogeneous groups can seek protection by arming themselves, if allowed, and by demanding a police state, which will become increasingly intrusive and repressive.

The endgame for socialism is thus tyranny.

This leads to civil war, revolution and the eventual break-up of the nation into smaller homogeneous enclaves.

We Europeans are only at the beginning of this long process. So far the response has mostly been to grin and bear it - hope that it goes away by itself. But some nations have started to build police states, albeit very 'soft' ones.

The US has a much longer history with multiculturalism in particular. The response to problems has mostly been to let the various cultural groups sort it out themselves.

Some have armed themselves. Some have fled their areas, leaving other groups to take over and turn it homogenous.

The US is a big country, so its possible to defuse multiculturalism by turning the country into a patchwork of monocultural enclaves. Some of these enclaves are heavily armed and exhibit some of the lowest crime rates in the western world.

But other areas have chosen to stay multicultural, disarm the lawabiding citizenry and use a more police state-like approach to try and deal with the heavily armed gangs of predators. Some of these areas are on par, crime wise, with 3rd world hellholes.

These are the areas that European nations have chosen as models for dealing with our burgeoning multiculturalism.

Our lower crime rates are thus purely a function of our lower levels of multiculturalism compared to the US.
19:10 August 29, 2011 by johnny108
Ahh- my mistake- of course!!

To injure someone destroying your personal property, would be unfair!!

He has every right to do so in Europe, of course!!

And, after all, all he needs is a lenient sentence in prison, so he can get back to his favorite hobby- disrupting your personal life for his petty little reasons!

Weak reactions to socially destructive/disruptive behavior make me sick!!
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