How well do you know your neighbors? There doesn't have to be a friendship, but those who know each other help each other. And attentive neighbors can avoid burglaries while you're on vacation yourself.
Not only holidaymakers look forward to the summer holidays, but also burglars. After all, many houses and apartments are then empty - and they don't have to fear being caught in the act. Or is it? Because there are still the attentive neighbors.
Harald Schmidt, managing director of the state and federal police crime prevention service, advises what neighbors can do for each other's security - and when it's best to hold back.
Is it true that thieves scout out worthwhile objects for a long time?
Harald Schmidt: That's rather rare, it's mostly random decisions. If a house looks uninhabited and unsecured, then ring the bell and see if anyone is at home.
Unmistakable signs that the apartment has been deserted for a long time are an overflowing mailbox or constantly closed shutters. That's why it's good if a neighbor regularly takes out the post and also pulls up the shutters during the day. Switching on the light in the evening gives a lived-in impression.
Should neighbors intervene if they notice something suspicious?
There is no legal obligation, but in the interests of good neighborly coexistence, all residents should keep an eye on their surroundings. The police can't be everywhere, they depend on the help of the population.
How can neighbors in an apartment building work together to ensure greater security?
Basically, front doors, but also basement and attic doors should be closed. When the doorbell rings, don't just ring the buzzer, but ask who's at the door. If strangers are in the house or wait for a long time on the street or in a parked car for no apparent reason, this can be an indication of a criminal offence. Then you should react.
What other signs could indicate a burglary in the neighborhood?
Flickering, shielded light in the neighboring house, possibly unusually curtained windows - these can be signs that burglars are at work. Or craftsmen noises in the house. They can also come from a burglary.
Or strangers ring at several apartments. Maybe they want to check if someone is there? Cars with foreign license plates that drive slowly through the residential area several times are also suspicious. Perhaps the inmates are looking for a worthwhile object?
Should I address the strangers directly?
That depends on the situation. In an apartment building, you can address strangers directly and offer help. Neighbors who suspect a burglary in the neighboring house or apartment is better off staying away. Then it is right to call the police and possibly take photos from a safe distance and later make them available to the police. Important: These pictures have no place in social networks.
What do I have to consider as a witness?
It would be good if you took a close look at the perpetrator or perpetrators and memorized as many characteristics as possible. That helps with the investigation. But direct confrontation with the burglar should be avoided. Nobody should play the hero, it could end badly. If the perpetrators have disappeared, nothing may be changed at the scene of the crime.
What if I'm wrong and an authorized person is in the neighboring house?
Suspicious perceptions should always be reported to the police - better too much than too little. There is no need to be afraid if a false alarm is triggered.
Does it make sense to inform the entire neighborhood after a burglary in your own home? Or will that cause panic?
Informing the neighborhood about the incident will certainly help to raise awareness. However, it is best to talk to the neighborhood about safety in general. For example, at a neighborhood meeting with police representatives. Phone numbers can be exchanged with each other. Then everyone can seek help in the neighborhood before the start of the trip if necessary and start their vacation with peace of mind.