Be safe, remain vigilant this holiday season

With the German Christmas market season upon us, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations would like to remind everyone to remain vigilant this holiday season.

Christmas markets are one of the many unique and wonderful experiences Americans stationed in Germany get to enjoy. Since these markets are renowned for drawing large crowds, Americans should be conscious of their surroundings and keep personal security in mind at all times.    

When choosing a Christmas market to visit, whether it is the local Kaiserslautern market or the one located in Mainz’s historic square, keep the following tips in mind:

• Develop a plan. Get familiar with the area before you travel and know the locations of the nearest emergency facilities.

• Never go it alone. It’s best to attend Christmas markets in groups and know where to meet if separated.

• Lock your vehicle. Christmas markets have historically been prone to vehicle break-ins. Park in well-lit areas and store valuables out-of-sight.

• Don’t go there. While walking, choose busy, well-lit streets and avoid isolated areas such as alleys and vacant lots. 

• Blend in. Dress casually and choose clothing that will not draw attention.
• Be vigilant. Be wary of unusual shopping bags, abandoned parcels, suitcases and backpacks.

• Be curious. Before donating this holiday season, verify the validity of the cause.  
Additionally, with the Christmas market season comes an increase in pick-pocketing, purse-snatching and petty crime. Usually, these perpetrators operate in teams and use distractions to increase their probability of success. Criminals may also pose as individuals representing an orphanage, Red Cross, or the handicapped and elderly and solicit for donations. Often times they will knock on your door and try to sell you Christmas cards, candles or other holiday items at inflated prices. There should always be a “healthy suspicion” against people ringing your doorbell and asking for money.

Most importantly, trust your instincts. If while you’re out enjoying the many Christmas markets you notice suspicious behavior, report this information to U.S. military authorities. If you sense an imminent threat to life or witness a crime taking place, immediately report this information to the German police (112).  
OSI would like to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Make smart personal security decisions, remain vigilant and report suspicious behaviors.   

Eagle Eyes — Suspicious Behaviors

Surveillance: Monitoring and/or recording of activities
Elicitation: Attempts to gain information about military operations, capabilities or people, including the collection of information through social networking sites
Tests of security: Attempts to measure security procedures to assess our strengths and weaknesses

Acquiring supplies: Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition, etc.
Suspicious people out of place: People who do not belong in the particular environment

Dry run: Implementation of the plan up to the point of actually carrying out the act

Deploying assets: People and supplies being put into position to commit the act

Stay Informed
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For more information on remaining vigilant during the holiday months, call AFOSI at 06371-47-5779 or 480-5779, 86th SFS at 06371-47-2050 or 480-2050, or 569th USFPS at 06315-36-6060 or 480-6060.

(Courtesy of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations)