This is the time for families to visit a Christmas market. It is also the right time for pickpockets doing their job. They like the crowds between vendor booths and act fast. The criminal statistics by Polizei shows a total of 168,142 cases of pickpocketing in 2015 in Germany, which is a raise of seven percent compared to 2014 (157,069 cases). These thieves cause a damage of about €50.8 million.
“Pickpockets like Christmas markets since the alleys between the booths are pretty narrow. One pickpocket is distracting the victim. A second one is stealing an item and passes it on to a third one, who is disappearing with it, in the crowd” said Gerhard Klotter, chief of the Police Criminal Prevention of the federal states and the federal government of Germany. “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 often are professional and internationally operating perpetrators, who are active in all of Europe. They can be recognized by their searching look. They avoid direct eye contact with the victim and look more for the valuables. Pickpockets get close to people and push them. The victim gets angry, turns around and then the purse or wallet in the coatpocket is easy to reach. Another successful scam of pickpockets is to smutch the outfit of a possible victim with mustard, ketchup or another fluid, and then offer their help in cleaning it. The victim is distracted from the valuables.
To be able to enjoy a stroll across the Christmas market, German Polizei are giving the following tips:
- Only take as much cash 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 code in your wallet.
- If you lose a credit or bankcard, get them locked.