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Security at the Christmas Market: The tricks and antics of the pickpockets

Security at the Christmas Market : The tricks and antics of the pickpockets

So far, police in Bonn and the Rhein-Sieg district have recorded few pickpockets during Advent. With the opening of the Christmas markets, however, the high season for pickpockets has begun. Here are their tricks, this is how you can protect yourself from thieves.

Pickpockets have an easy time at well-attended markets and crowded inner cities: the high season of pickpockets also begins with the opening of the Christmas markets in Bonn and the region. Now it's time to pay particular attention to your own valuables. We give tips on how to protect yourself from pickpockets and how to react in the event of theft.

Number of pickpockets in Bonn declines

This year, the Bonn police are once again increasingly committed to security at the Christmas market. A mobile guard is placed on the Christmas market near the main portal of the cathedral. From the "Guard Christmas Market", the officers coordinate the patrols and are the contact point for those seeking advice and help on the spot. In addition, uniformed and civilian foot patrols will pay special attention to potential trick thieves around the Christmas market.

Since the opening of the Bonn Christmas Market, however, there has only been a small number of pickpockets in Bonn's city centre, the Bonn police reported in response to an enquiry. The police in the Rhein-Sieg district also reported only one pickpocket theft at the Advent market in Troisdorf. A direct allocation to the Christmas market is problematic anyway, explains Simon Rott of the Bonn police. It is often only later that the victims discover that something is missing. Thus it is not clear whether the thief accessed the Christmas market or elsewhere.

The number of known pickpockets is falling steadily. In 2018, the Bonn police recorded only about 1056 cases, the lowest level since 1997. For 2019, according to previous surveys, officials expect a further decline. Perhaps this is due to the fact that, according to police estimates, people are much more aware of the dangers involved in handling their bags and take the prevention tips of the officers to heart. This is why the police are once again resorting to the "alarm bells" this year. As soon as a stranger tampers with the clip, it rings an alarm. By addressing careless visitors and distributing the "alarm bells", the police succeeded in sensitising people.

How to protect yourself from pickpockets

Christmas markets, public transport or the hustle and bustle of department stores: pickpockets go hunting everywhere it gets cramped. Experts at Allgemeine Rechtschutz-Versicherungs AG (Arag) therefore recommend that you only take as much cash with you as you actually need. Larger amounts of money can be stowed in money belts, belt bags or breast pouches. Cash, EC and credit cards are best distributed on the body. If you cannot do without it, the handbag should always be closed and the closure side worn close to the body. The smartphone, for example, can also be stored in a secure inner pocket inside the jacket.

These are the tricks of pickpockets

Arag warns against the wedging trick, in which the victim is crowded in the middle of many people or wedged in by supposed passers-by. While the man in front suddenly bends over to something and the unsuspecting one runs up and is distracted, the accomplice at the back reaches into his pocket. The thieves expect the victim to turn around when they get uncomfortably close and present the shoulder bag.

Another popular theft trick is the dancing trick. Where many people celebrate, the perpetrators prefer to target alcoholized or unsteady people. They seem to be looking for body contact while dancing.

Teams are usually at work on the city map trick. While the "stranger" asks for the way and the victim orientates him- or herself, the accomplice plunders the bag. Arag experts also warn against the dirty trick: "Accidentally" the victim is stained. During the subsequent verbose cleaning attempt, the wallet disappears.

If you catch a pickpocket

If you observe a pickpocket thief, you should draw other people's attention to the thief and ask for help. The police should also be informed immediately. If a thief is caught red-handed, he may even be detained. "If someone is caught or persecuted in the act, if he is suspected of escaping or his identity cannot be established immediately, everyone is entitled to arrest him temporarily even without a court order," according to the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO). Of course, this must remain within reasonable limits.

If the theft has occurred

If your bank or credit card is missing, you should act quickly and block the cards immediately. If the credit institution participates in the central blocking emergency call system, the card blocking number 116 116 can be dialled. The same applies to the SIM card for a stolen mobile phone. Even the identity function of the identity card can now be blocked with the 116 116.

Original text: Vanessa Rheinschmidt

Translation: Mareike Graepel