Watch out: Pickpockets like Christmas markets

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

During Advent season, most people enjoy a visit to a Christmas market. Pickpockets do the same.

The criminal statistics by Polizei shows a total of 120,790 cases of pickpocketing in 2011, which is a raise of 16 percent compared to 2010 (104,145 cases).

“Especially in the narrow alleys between booths and in front of stands, it’s very packed,” said Prof. Dr. Wolf Hartmann, chief of the Police Criminal Prevention of the federal states and the federal government. “It’s easy for thieves to reach for valuables. Within seconds wallets, credit cards and (cell phones) will disappear.”

Pickpockets usually work in groups. One distracts the victim, while another one reaches for the valuables and passes them on to a third person, who then disappears in 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 get recognized by their searching look. They avoid direct eye contact with the victim and rather look for the haul.

To avoid getting pickpocketed, follow these tips:
» Only take as much 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.