Bonn · Compared to the previous year, there were not only fewer burglaries, but also fewer incidents of pickpocketing. Police chief Frank Hoever attributes this to large-scale checks within the framework of the strategic search - and reserves the right to apply the controversial measure again.
The Bonn police have ended the so-called strategic manhunt for the time being. The measure, which allows people and vehicles to be checked without suspicion, has led to a decrease in the number of cases of housebreaking and pickpocketing, the police department's press office announced on Wednesday.
These two offences were the reason given by police chief Frank Hoever for the strategic search in the entire area of responsibility of the police headquarters when he ordered it on 18 November last year. Due to the persistently high number of cases, the head of the department decided to extend the strategic manhunt after the four weeks had expired - in relation to burglary prevention. The NRW Police Act provides for the possibility of extension for 28 days. "After 28 days, it was not to be expected that the control measures would already result in a sustainable decrease in crimes," Hoever was quoted as saying in the press release. "That is why I ordered the extension. Now we are taking stock - and it is positive."
The officers checked a total of 2938 persons
According to the report, residential burglaries fell by around 18 per cent across the authority between 18 November and 9 January compared to the same period last year (18 November 2021 to 9 January 2022). The number of cases dropped from 239 to 196. The police also report success in the fight against pickpocketing. From 18 November to 23 December, there were 150 such thefts in the jurisdiction - a decrease of 50 cases or 25 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The police authority had implemented the strategic manhunt mainly through focal point checks on the roads. The officers checked a total of 2938 persons and 1865 vehicles. However, the intensity of the checks during the extension period was significantly lower than at the beginning: If one compares the notifications of the police from mid-December and this week, 586 persons and 306 vehicles were added during this period.
According to the notification, the police initiated a total of 109 investigation procedures, 52 of which concerned traffic offences. The officers wrote 149 administrative offence notices and imposed 298 warning fines - mainly for various traffic violations. They also arrested five people on the basis of existing arrest warrants. During the checks, 112 persons came into focus who were known to the police for property offences.
Greens in the state parliament are critical of the measure
"Criminals must continue to expect to be checked in our area of responsibility in the future," announced police chief Hoever. "We are constantly analysing the crime figures and I reserve the right to order the measure again, depending on developments in the situation and police assessments in this regard." This is "rightly expected of the police".
The black-yellow state government had anchored the strategic search in the NRW Police Act in 2018. It must have a cause and be limited in time and location. The Greens, the new coalition partners of the CDU in the state parliament, are sceptical about the measure. They consider the encroachment on civil liberties to be too far-reaching when measured against the results. Similar criticism was voiced in 2020 by the then NRW data protection commissioner. Her successor Bettina Gayk remains silent.
Original text: Maike Velden and Andreas Baumann
Translation: Mareike Graepel