Bonn Bonn police recorded fewer crimes in 2018 than any time since 1996, among other things because the number of burglaries continues to fall. However, the number of sexual offences has risen and telephone fraudsters who target older people are also a concern.
Bonn police’s current crime statistics are impressive: fewer burglaries, less crime on the streets and the lowest number of offences since 1996. But there are also negatives: the number of sexual offences has risen and fraudsters are increasingly targeting the elderly. Ayla Jacob spoke to Norbert Wagner, head of the Criminal Investigation Department, about the highs and lows of crime development in Bonn and the region.
What is your assessment of crime development in Bonn and parts of the region?
Norbert Wagner: From a professional viewpoint, it is very noteworthy and gratifying. However, we have areas that have developed negatively, such as sexual offences, with a four percent increase in the number of cases. But we have fewer rapes and sexual assaults.
How do you explain the increase?
Wagner: One reason is the terrible events in Cologne on News Year’s Eve 2016. The criminal code was changed at the time and insults of a sexual nature are now considered sexual harassment. More complaints are also being made. Then there are more investigations into perpetrators who email files with pornographic content to children and young people. This is a phenomenon that developed statistically in 2018. But it will continue and deserves our special attention.
There has been a positive improvement in the number of burglaries
Wagner: In 2013 we had a terribly high number. Since then, the numbers have been continuously declining and we have almost halved them. Nevertheless, we are not stopping our successful efforts.
How do you want to achieve that?
Wagner: Meticulous crime scene work is important. We find evidence such as fingerprints and traces of DNA at more than one in ten crime scenes. We are also concentrating on series [of crimes], as many perpetrators carry out several burglaries. We set up teams, work closely with other authorities and carry out regular checks. In 2018, we were able to convict 122 suspects. We also receive information from the state. The State Criminal Police Office has developed some very good software. Their data is used to determine where there is the greatest risk of burglary in the next 14 days. In this way we can identify hotspots where we can concentrate our work.
Where are they in Bonn?
Wagner: At the moment, Dottendorf, Poppelsdorf, Duisdorf, Meßdorf, Auerberg, Buschdorf, Hochkreuz, Plittersdorf, Holzlar, Pützchen and Bonn’s Nordstadt.
At the moment it seems as if more burglaries are being committed.
Wagner: That is not quite right. Measured against the comparable period in 2018 to 13 February, we are currently below that.
On the topic of fraud, what plays a major role?
Wagner: The decisive issue at the moment is the scam concerning fake police officers. In 2018 we had more than 730 incidents, which almost tripled the number. In the first two months of 2019, we have already had more than 500 incidents. Luckily, over 98 per cent of attempts fail, but 13 cases succeeded last year with a loss of Euro 423,600.
How do you explain the increase?
Wagner: You can make money quickly and the risk is low. The perpetrators take advantage of the fact that many older people are socially isolated. Also, older people are often unavailable as witnesses; they shy away from informing relatives and the police because they are ashamed.
Street crime has fallen and the figures are the lowest for 40 years. Why do many Bonners still not feel safe on the streets?
Wagner: The subjective perception of safety has a lot to do with fears, which are often not rationally justified. We understand this. It is why, for example, we are still on the streets in Bad Godesberg, Tannenbusch and the Hofgarten. The figures there are very good, but this is why we are not leaving. Our operations are working.
Does Salafism still play a major role in Bonn?
Wagner: Bonn still plays a special role here. This is due to historical structures, from the times it was capital, and also to the King Fahd Academy. At that time, relationships were established that continue to this day. State security, which is well staffed, has an eye on it. It is increasingly concerned with people from the Islamic terrorist sector. They are sometimes spoken to openly, sometimes covertly monitored.
Are there many returnees from Syria and Iraq?
Wagner: No, it has subsided. But we still have people from the Bonn area who are there. If they return, we deal with them.
How many people who are a threat to public safety are in Bonn and are there local areas where they are concentrated?
Wagner: I don’t want to give a concrete figure. There are no local areas in Bonn where they are concentrated.
(Original text: Ayla Jacob. Translation: kc)