The problem isn’t really new – pickpockets have always been targeting commuters in Berlin, as in probably every other city. But an increase of 50% in 2015 compared to 2014 is an alarming figure. In 2015 over 12.000 cases were reported to the police – on Berlin Public Transport (BVG) alone.
That makes it almost every third of all cases of pocket-picking reported in Berlin. The year before *only* some 8.000 case of pocket-picking on Berlin Public Transport were reported. In 2012 the number was as low as 4.000 cases.
The rising numbers seem to be a sign of Berlin’s rising popularity. More and more people are either moving to Berlin or spending a holiday. And more and more people are using the Berlin public transport. Over 3 Million passengers are currently using the BVG on a daily basis.
Pickpockets seems to target mostly tourists – but of course also the regular Berliner can become a victim rather easily. Basically everybody knows at least someone who has been robbed while using Berlin’s public transport. So in case you are planning to use Berlin’s public transport in the near future: please be aware, that although Berlin seems to be such a nice and relaxed place to be, sometimes it’s not.
Last weekend was a bad weekend for Berlin’s bubbling nightlife and clubbing area known as the RAW area near Warschauer Brücke / Revaler Strasse in Berlin Friedrichshain. Two violent attacks made it to the headlines of Berlin’s news.
What had happened? First two dutch tourists were attacked and robbed – and only shortly after another night crawler was attacked and robbed violently in a quite similar manner.
RAW-Area Berlin-Friedrichshain, entrance at Revaler Strasse – Photo by Mikado59 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Both attacks followed a similar pattern: first a wallet was ‘almost’ stolen. On the victims fighting back the attackers called for reinforcements and things got out of hand.
The two dutch guests were beaten up badly by a group of around fifteen people. One of Dutchmen’s wallet got stolen and the group of attackers vanished. After the fight the two suffered “significant facial and head injuries” (Telegraaf) and had to be treated in hospital.
Also the other attack ended in hospital: after the victim fought back he was attacked with a knife by a partner of the original attacker. He had to be hospitalized with an almost fatal cut on his throat.
As far as I know in a first statement to the press Berlin police didn’t see any connection between the two cases. At least Berlin police didn’t see any signs of organized crime here. Maybe it’s then un-organized crime?! Anyways. In a facebook posting Berlin’s police now has released a list of tips for Berlin party crawlers. I’ll try to translate some of the details of that statement:
- When you’re going out, leave valuable things you don’t necessarily need at home – such as jewellery, watches etc. Other valuable things like mobile phones and money should be kept close to the body. Money can be hidden in pockets, socks and shoes.
- When you’re approached ‘strangely’ by somebody you don’t know ask your friend if they know him/her in a loud voice. Chances are that the person will refrain from … whatever he/she intended to do.
- When you realize that somebody has just taken something from you, speak out loudly what just happened. Try to attract the attention of your friends or bystanders – a group is less vulnerable or ‘attackable’ than a single person. Try to get a door keeper’s or bar keeper’s attention.
- Don’t try to hinder the mugger by force. No thing is as valuable as your health.
- Do not provoke the muggers. most likely they are prepared for such a situation, while you are not. Do not try to use ‘things’ as a weapon – the attackers may have weapons with them.
- Try to escape the situation as quick as possible. Run!
- Contact the police as soon as possible. Only if the police knows of such incidents they can do something about it so that you can go partying safely.
Some Berlin news from last night: shortly after half past midnight, a 24 year old man entered an apartment in Berlin Prenzlauerberg’s Christburger Strasse. He then called the hotline of the Berlin fire department and claimed he had taken a hostage.
The fire department then called the police and went straight to Christburger Strasse. When the police arrived, the ‘hostage’ – a 59 year old man, is already free and is taken care of by the medical staff of the fire department. The drunk man had hurt the ‘hostage’ on the wrist while ‘holding’ him. The ‘hostage’ anyways still escaped rather easily.
The 24 year old man then ‘welcomed’ the police by throwing things from the third floor kitchen window – media reports say that there were also kitchen knives among those ‘things’ thrown from the window.
The police then went to the third floor, talked to the man through the closed door and asked him to open the door. By then the man had already calmed down and replied he would want to open the door, but couldn’t because the door was locked and the key was broken and stuck inside the lock. The police then opened the door by force. A first alcohol test revealed the man was quite drunk: 2.31‰. The man was then escorted to a nearby hospital. Good morning Berlin!
Here’s the news in German at Tagesspiegel.de:
“Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg Betrunkener scheitert mit ‘Geiselnahme‘”