This should be a place with a particularly large number of crimes? They have never heard of it, the young men who gathered in front of the Saturn branch in the Spandau Arcades. You are not a gang of youth, as you might expect from the recent crime figures from Berlin's shopping centers. But gamer, computer player. They compete against each other in a PlayStation tournament. Ersan Ocak is one of them. He lives nearby, visit the arcades frequently. It is not dangerous here. He has never experienced violence here ", says Ocak.
This meeting a few days ago does not seem to fit into a new list from inside management released last week. "How many crimes were committed in the shopping malls between 2014 and 2018?" Was the question that MEP Marcel Luthe (FDP) wanted answered.
The administration responded by listing 48 shopping centers. The sum of the offenses was high. Nevertheless, the police said: shopping centers are not crime priorities, but even more secure. How does it fit together?
In Spandau Arcaden alone, the front runner of the list, a total of 1368 crimes were reported in 2018, according to interior administration. That's 3.75 offenses per day – more than in any other shopping center. This is followed by Alexa with 1008 offenses and the Gesundbrunnen Center with 859 crimes in 2018.
"The citizens feel very safe in shopping malls," comments Luthe the numbers. But the feeling was deceptive, as the "partly frightening increases in violent and sexual offenses" showed. The FDP internal expert calls therefore more police presence.
Surveillance cameras consider Luthe ineffective. The high number of crimes show that cameras could not prevent any action. "Security in public space is the core task of the state," says Luthe. "If the policeman can come around the corner at any time", that still leaves the most impression on potential perpetrators.
"If we remove the shoplifting, the numbers will fall immensely"
"The presence of police counteracts crime," says Thilo Cablitz, spokesman for the Berlin police. The safety in shopping centers, however, he assessed very differently than Luthe. More than half of the listed offenses are property offenses. "If we remove the shoplifting, the numbers fall immensely." For example, the ads in the Spandau Arcades are stealing more than 60 percent of the time. Was stolen 840 times.
Dangerous for the citizens but above all violent crime. Their numbers are "negligible" in the shopping centers, compared to other public places in the city. They also did not rise significantly. In 2018, 44 cases of personal injury, twelve robberies and eight sexual offenses were reported in the Spandau Arcades.
By comparison, in the Alexanderplatz area, a "crime-prone area," the police counted a total of 668 assaults in 2017. And at Kottbusser Tor, there were 328.
"The Spandau Arcaden are located directly at the transport hub Spandau station," says Center Manager Volker Ahlefeld. That's why many people come together here. There would be many lawsuits. They would then be registered under the address of the arcades, but would not necessarily be related to the mall. For example, major events such as football matches regularly led to police operations involving "offenses of all kinds."
Danilo Hoffmann is a salesman in the clothing store "Jack & Jones" in the arcades. That his job should be in a dangerous place, he had learned only from the press. He was surprised that he had never experienced violence here. There are very few thefts in his shop. Until a few months ago, he worked in a Neuköllner Center. There was much more stolen. But in the neighborhood around Karl-Marx-Straße not all shoplifting charges would be reported, Hoffmann suspects. "Maybe there are more ads in Spandau, because people are very attentive."
On the square in front of the center is a sausage stall. It is not dangerous here, says the saleswoman. Sometimes drunks beat each other in the evening. But the federal police from the station is then always fast on the spot. At the park in front of the station is a police car. "We just show presence," says the group leader, also with foot strips. The policeman comes around the corner from time to time, as Marcel Luthe demands.