44,800 bags and hand luggages were registered stolen in 2015, a rise of about a quarter on 2014

Thefts on German public transport rise by 25 percent

A German newspaper has reported that public transport users reported nearly 45,000 crimes on trains and at railway stations last year. The 25 percent increase follows a similar rise the previous year.

The figures, published in the national daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” on Monday 26 September showed that 44,800 bags and hand luggages were registered stolen in 2015, a rise of about a quarter on 2014.

The Federal police statistics cited by the paper covered minor crimes committed in German railway stations and on trains, and were released ahead of the police’s annual report, which is due to be published shortly.

The paper said last year’s increase, follow a nearly 20 percent rise recorded in the previous year.

Police have blamed professional criminals, who they said travel internationally to carry out offences. Often they work in groups of three to six people and use distraction techniques before stealing purses or wallets.

Goodwill and the willingness to help are often exploited by asking the victim to help read the train schedule or help with using a machine, the paper said.

Migrant link not highlighted

The report didn’t mention whether the increase in thefts was linked to the huge influx of migrants arriving in Germany over the past two years.

But in June, police said migrants were linked to 69,000 attempted or actual crimes in the first quarter of 2016.

More than 1.1 million refugees entered the country in 2015 alone, according to German interior ministry figures.

Police have warned the public to keep cash, credit cards and valuables as close to the body as possible, and not in clothes that are hung up on the backs of chairs on trains. They also warned that rucksacks were particularly vulnerable to theft.

Additional police officers have been stationed at many German railway stations in recent months following the New Years Eve attacks in Cologne, that saw around 1,500 women report being sexually assaulted and robbed by suspects of mainly North African and Arab appearance.

Contrary to the nationwide trend – the increased surveillance was seen as partly responsible for a 20 per cent fall in street crime committed in the state of North Rhine Westphalia, where Cologne is located, in the first six months of this year. // © Deutsche Welle

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