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Bonn: Professional pickpockets set up shop in Bonn​

Police warning : Professional pickpockets set up shop in Bonn

The Criminal Investigation Department suspects that gangs have been pushed out of other towns. It appears that Meckenheim is among the places that are attracting the crooks. The police are reacting with tighter controls within the framework of the controversial 28-day stop-and-search.

The police are also targeting non-local gangs of thieves who apparently want to establish themselves in Bonn and Meckenheim. The crooks steal primarily from senior citizens. This is what it says in the search order that police chief Frank Hoever provided to the GA.

The criminal investigation department expects that the perpetrators "have aspirations to firmly establish themselves in the Bonn as well as Meckenheim urban area, not least as a result of being ousted from surrounding cities". They are in the process of "building up criminal structures". The thieves are committing their crimes by spreading out their tasks. The professional crooks carry out "targeted counter-observation" in order to detect police officers in time. One of their schemes involves spying on victims at ATMs in order to get their PIN. Then one perpetrator engages the person in conversation while an accomplice steals the cash card.

42 vehicles checked on Tuesday

According to the police, pickpocketing in Bonn (Zentrum, Nord-, Süd-, Weststadt and Castell) alone increased by 203 cases from January to October compared to the same period last year - an increase of 59 percent. It is even worse in Meckenheim: 47 cases of pickpocketing after 19 cases in the same period of the previous year correspond to 142 percent more. Burglaries are also on the rise. In the area of the Bonn police station, which is also responsible for the Rhine-Sieg district on the left bank of the Rhine as well as Königswinter and Bad Honnef, the increase is 20 per cent with 764 cases.

The police want to disrupt the perpetrators with their stop-and-search activities, which started on Friday. Stop-and-search means officer can stop and search a vehicle without any concrete grounds for suspicion. On Tuesday, for example, officers checked 62 people and 42 vehicles in Duisdorf, Mehlem and the Rheinaue, according to police spokesperson Simon Rott. They did not find any burglars, but they did discover ten administrative offences, and wrote three reports. Among them were offences against the obligation to wear seat belts. The police also stopped a five-seater van that was carrying seven construction workers and their equipment. As the driver did not have a valid driving licence, charges were brought against the owner of the vehicle.

Dortmund reports success

The Dortmund police have used stop-and-search several times since the amendment of the NRW police law in 2018 and classify it as successful. In addition to burglaries, the local press office cites robberies in the city centre, the illegal "tuning, speeding and boy racer scene" and turf wars in the clan and rocker milieu as causes. After an attack on a tattoo studio, another clash between rival gangs had thus been stopped in 2021.

In 2019 alone, 10 016 people were controlled, 229 people arrested and 935 reports written during stop-and-search to combat burglary offences, according to the Dortmund police department. However, the then data protection commissioner of North Rhine-Westphalia complained that the measure "led to thousands of checks on passers-by, including the identification of passers-by, without achieving the intended police success". When asked whether the current data protection commissioner, Bettina Gayk, shares her predecessor's criticism, her spokesperson left it open.

Original text: Andreas Baumann and Philipp Königs

Translation: Jean Lennox