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Safety issues in Niedersachsen

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Posted

Hi people!

I'm really puzzled, sick and tired of this whole situation. About six months ago, my boyfriend and me moved to a university city here in Germany. Generally, this country is spoken of as a very safe one and criminal rates are supposed to be very low. However in this months we have been robbed several times: 3 bikes, countless bike seats, lamps, breakes, etc. And worst of all, last weekend my boyfriend was coming back from a party (two blocks away from our house!) late at night, he was stopped by a group of men. These guys were definitely not german, perhaps russians or like, but i don't really want to speculate. He was forced into a car, taken to hell knows where, and beaten. These guys weren't satisfied with 5 euros he had in his wallet, so they took him to an ATM in a gas station and forced him to get more money. There was a girl in the counter of the 24 hour store at the gas station, but she didn't do anything, even though they beat him again after he tried to escape.

So, I'm wondering, is this even normal? what the hell is going on? Is it just bad luck?

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Posted

Did your boyfriend go to the police?

You do realise that garages have cameras to keep an eye on their customers, don´t you? Maybe the whole thing was caught on film(?)

Yes, it is awful to find yourself living in a district that is not "safe", so take precautions - do not carry a lot of money around, and certainly not a lot of cards and stuff.

Always be aware of your surroundings, and of who is doing what around you - sounds simple, but if you notice "suspicious" people on one side of the road, cross to the other - see if they follow - if they do, call the police immediately!

Since you are students, check out if a self-defense course is available to you, or even a martial art - bear in mind though that somebody with a yellow belt in karate can do relatively little - it all takes time to learn, but in the meantime you may well gain an air of confidence that you might not be demonstrating right now, and that alone might put potential criminals off.

Oh, and find somewhere else to keep your bikes! (or remove everything that can be removed when you leave them anywhere!)

Edit: so far I haven´t found an ATM at a garage here, and to be honest, I can´t imagine Saxony being the first region to have them - are you sure you aren´t mistaken?

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Posted

According to the statistics Germany is indeed a relatvely safe country, but it is by no means crime-free. Being located centrally in Western Europe means it is a major transit route for East - West and North - South international road traffic. Professional criminals, especially in small groups, are highly mobile and those coming from poorer countries to the east and south east do see Germany as a wealthy and somewhat softer target than their own homelands.

Every state in Germany has its own method of collating crime stats, some even allow large city police forces to use different methodology. The result is that Frankfurt ( because of its being the financial capital and its airport being the main airside customs port) leads in two areas of crime; fraud and smuggling. The criminals responsible may be located in Hamburg or Stuttgart though. Bayern police have a very detail oriented recording system which treats theft of, from, and damage to bicycles as 3 types of crime. Further to which they rate theft from cellars, hallways, private yards and gardens, industrial and wokplaces and railway statios and 'other' public places as separate categories. Munich has a very low crime rate, but exceeds Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin in per capita damage to, and theft from, cycles. :rolleyes:

Robbery with violence ( ie. the worst kind of robbery), is what happened to your boyfriend. Theft is what happened to your cycles and parts. Try to keep these differences in mind for your own peace of mind It is human nature to feel things are worse when anxiety and fear is allowed free run. The effect can be very bad for your self-confidence.

I am not trying to minimise the facts, but please bear in mind that a gang of 1, 2, or 3 young teens are well capable of targeting a locality for such thefts and creating a local mini-crime wave until Inspektor Zufall (Constable Coincidence) happens to catch them. As robinson100 said, if repetitive cycle thefts are occurring, it's time to rethink you strategic security plan. The Polizei have specialist officers who deal with these problems and they will gladly advise you on suitable measures you can take.

The circumstances of your boyfriend's robbery are very rare anywhere in Germany although neither unique nor unheard of. I would expect that, assuming he made an immediate report, the Kriminalpolizei are actively investigating the case. They do a lot of their work in the background and/or undercover so the fact that you may not see them doesn't mean they haven't taken active precautions to avoid further attacks in the area.

As far as the action, or inaction, of the girl at the gas station is concerned I would not consider her to have acted that way intentionally. Very few people are hardwired to react effectively when faced with a sudden change to their familiar circumstances. She may have mis-read the situation, fallen victim to a temporary state of shock due to fear or simply not have been able to mentally compute what was happening. Fear is a terrible thing insofar as it can temporarily paralyze thought and action so please try not to assume her behaviour was malicious.

I have been through several life-threatening events and had the good fortune to react effectively without thinking, but each time a voice in my head sent a signal which, had I taken time to analyze it, I'd describe in terms of a voice command, 'This must be Hollywood so ... ALL BETS ARE OFF!" That released my natural inhibitions and I ACTED INSTANTANEOUSLY.

After the first time I had no fear that I would cope if something similar occurred again. I was right about that, twice more. I am no superman, but I do have extremely fast reactions which is what got me out of trouble. Predatory attackers act aggressively up to the point things don't follow their plan and then they are thrown off balance and become just as vulnerable as they had thought their victim was. Take note of robinson100's 2nd point re self-defence courses. I believe she is an active practicing instructor herself (as well as being a volunteer firefighter).

I am very sorry you guys have had to go through this and I hope your boyfriend gets over it soon. I know, from experience, the idea that he could/should have done something differently will probably haunt him for some time. Try to encourage him to accept that he did all that he could at the time and to have acted otherwise may well have ended very badly indeed. He was outnumbered and alone and in that situation I wouldn't expect anyone to be able to do better.

Talk to the police about the bike situation. Ask the Kripo about the gas station video. Go to the Uni self-defense courses and remember, Nil illigitimus desperandum (pig latin) = Don't let the bastards grind you down.

2B

ETA:

@r100 :unsure: SAXONY?? Lower Saxony, puulleeeze!

There are ATMs at some gas stations in Germany, and there have been for a long time too. I know of several in the Frankfurt/Rhein-Main area, primarily in 24 hour high traffic stations on major routes out of the city and near the airport. Never in low traffic areas or badly lit stations. Some of the large truck Autoports on the autobahn have them too.

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Posted

@r100 SAXONY?? Lower Saxony, puulleeeze!

There are ATMs at some gas stations in Germany, and there have been for a long time too. I know of several in the Frankfurt/Rhein-Main area, primarily in 24 hour high traffic stations on major routes out of the city and near the airport. Never in low traffic areas

- wow!

I am surprised how much you know about me 2B!!!

(I feel honoured!)

Seriously though, I have never found one here - back home nearly every second garage has one, but here, maybe because of where I am located, I have never, ever seen one! (I guess I live in a "low traffic" area...)

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Posted

So, I'm wondering, is this even normal? what the hell is going on? Is it just bad luck?

Having your bike stolen is normal (in Berlin anyway - 5 and counting :( ) getting bundled into a car and beaten, then dragged to an ATM to get money out, no, not so normal (thank God)

Edit: so far I haven´t found an ATM at a garage here, and to be honest, I can´t imagine Saxony being the first region to have them - are you sure you aren´t mistaken?

I've seen plenty of ATMs at petrol stations

I hope your boyfirend is OK after that attack, what a horrible thing to have happened to him

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Posted

Göttingen isnt in the top 15 of dangerous towns, so whats happening to you is not normal for Göttingen, let alone Germany. Yes, bikes get stolen and people get mugged, but the amount of times its happened to you suggests you are living in a particularly bad area.

If someone really wants your bike, theyll take it, so any safety precautions are all about stopping random assholes swiping stuff for yucks, but you can certainly thread a bike lock chain or cable through your saddle to stop that going, attach brakes etc with bolt adhesive and use cheap. clip-on battery lights (and take them with you rather than leaving them on the bike).

The getting mugged and dragged into a car isnt unknown, but its pretty rare and extreme - Is there any reason they may have targeted your boyfriend particularly?

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Posted

I visit Gottingen regularly and I'v never had a problem, day or night. I'd much prefer to wander around a lot of big German cities to say London (my old home town and work place)

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Posted

The only thing Göttingen is really known for crime-wise is that the local lefties like to use IEDs a bit more than in other places. At least the police call 'em IEDs.

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Posted

If I were you I would go down to the local locksmith or similar and grab myself a bottle of pepper spray, best 10€ you'll ever spend!

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Posted

Can't see how this going to help. If the area is really that unsafe, I would move somewhere else. Thinking that a small place like Göttingen has a crime problem, is just nonsense, what happened is just so far out of the normal.

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Posted

Can't see how your pointless comments on pretty much every topic help either....

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Posted

The only thing Göttingen is really known for crime-wise is that the local lefties like to use IEDs a bit more than in other places. At least the police call 'em IEDs.

Sounds more like Afghanistan than Germany...

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Posted

Can't see how your pointless comments on pretty much every topic help either....

Well, the point of my 'pointless comments' is, that neither pepper spray nor self-defence courses will solve the problem. Such measures usually just make a situation even more dangerous and might lead to even greater injuries. Best thing, as others have pointed out, is to report it to the police and let them do their job. Doing some vigilante action or taking things into your own hands will only endanger yourself even more.

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