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CRIME

Burglaries drop by over 20 percent in a year, signalling major police success

The number of break-ins in Germany dropped by 20 percent last year in comparison with 2016, continuing a drop in a type of crime that reached a worrying high back in 2015.

Burglaries drop by over 20 percent in a year, signalling major police success
Photo: DPA

Some 116,540 break-ins were recorded in 2017, a massive 23 percent drop on 2016 when 151,265 such crimes were recorded. It also marked the second year in a row that break-ins decreased.

The drop in the number of burglaries brought the number down to a size last seen in 2010 and marked a significant reduction from 2015 when a record 167,136 break-ins were recorded in Germany.

A steady increase in burglaries over several years had piled pressure on the federal government to find a solution. The last government brought in tougher sentencing in summer 2017, increasing the minimum jail term for committing a burglary in a private home from six months to a year.

Police say that preventative measures taken by homeowners have also had a positive effect of dampening the level of break-ins. A public information drive by the police has led to people installing better windows and security systems in their homes.

In North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) for example, 46 percent of registered break-ins failed, meaning that the robbers failed to make it into the house or did not steal anything.

“That is proof that even more citizens are seeking advice on how to protect their four walls,” said Herbert Reul, interior minister in NRW.

The numbers are based on DPA calculations on the basis of criminal statistics provided by the individual federal states. The interior ministry will officially release the national crime statistics from 2017 in May.

Criminologists meanwhile caution that one should not read too much into the figures, as they only represent recorded crime.

“One can only explain increases and decreases in burglaries by looking at the level of unrecorded crime,”┬áThomas Feltes, a criminologist at the Ruhr University said.

SEE ALSO: What crimes are committed in Germany and where is criminality most common?

CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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