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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,” Thomas Feltes, a criminologist at the Ruhr University said.

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

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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