German Polizei: Pickpockets like Christmas markets

Courtesy of Police Criminal Prevention of the federal states and the federal government

They like the crowds between vendors’ booths and act fast — pickpockets do their job at Christmas markets. The criminal statistics by German Polizei shows a total of 136,000 cases of pickpocketing in 2013 in Germany, which is a rise of 15 percent compared to 2012 (117,300 cases). These thieves cause a damage of about €39.4 million.

“Considering the rising number of pickpocket cases, citizens must get sensitized and learn how to protect themselves,” said Gerhard Klotter, chief of the Police Criminal Prevention of the federal states and the federal government. “Our Polizei tips will help Christmas market goers to avoid bad situations.”

The most important tips are:
• Only take as much money as you actually need.
• Carry money, credit cards and ID cards in various closed inside pockets of your clothes, close to the body.
• Carry purses with the closing side (zipper) to the body.
• Watch your valuables in crowds. Be suspicious if you suddenly get pushed or two people sandwich you.
• Never keep your PIN in your wallet.
• If you lose a credit or bank card, get them locked.

Pickpockets usually work in groups. One distracts the victim, while another reaches for the valuables and passes them on to a third person, who then disappears into the crowd. If they don’t get caught in the act, they are difficult to find, especially since victims don’t notice the loss until later.

Pickpockets observe their possible victims for quite a while. They bump into them, ask flimsy questions, offer their help or smutch their clothes to get into contact. Thieves approach victims from the back, push them until they turn around and thus present their purses or wallets in coat pockets.

Pickpockets can be recognized by their searching look. They avoid direct eye contact with the victim and rather look for the haul.