Neighbourhood watch!

For many years the police, with the initiative "Attention! Neighbourhood Watch", have been making people aware of how the security-conscious behaviour of citizens can make a contribution to the prevention of crime and in particular breaking and entering. 

Many criminal acts fail due to the watchful eye of neighbours and by addressing strangers or even calling the police direct regarding unusual observations. The following example demonstrates that this kind of prevention is not just effective in residential areas, but also in yacht harbours.

Neighbourhood watch!In spring 2011 the Water Police Schleswig-Holstein was busy investigating a series of breaking and entering at the River Schlei. The culprits were after outboard motors, which were all stolen between Arnis and Kappel. The theives were eventually captured by 'Captain Coincidence', or, to be more precise, by the attentive behaviour of citizens.

Walkers-by observed two young men as they carried an outboard motor across a meadow.  This observation appeared so strange to them that they took photos with the camera of their mobile phone. The police were immediately able to identify one of the two men shown on the photo. Even the outboard motor could be recognised as stolen goods and matched. The police placed the alleged culprits under observation and eventually arrested them and recovered a number of stolen outboard motors. These two partners in crime could still be wreaking havoc at the Schlei if it had not been for the help from the general public.

However, the theft of a 40-foot yacht in Glücksburg, Germany, showed that it can turn out quite differently. A couple was relaxing in the cockpit of their boat in the yacht harbour Quellental when a technician walked along the jetty. He boarded the neighbouring vessel and even talked to the couple for a few minutes. The people were not suspicious since the man had a phone conversation with the owner and told him that he had found the boat and that he would now start to work. It later became evident that the phone call was faked.

The couple left the yacht harbour a little later without giving it another thought. Other witnesses also stated that the man was perfectly inconspicuous. Danish sailors said that he even caught their mooring lines and that he talked to them in Danish.

Later, when the man as well as the yacht had disappeared, it became evident that the man was anything but harmless. To date there is no trace of the thief or the stolen yacht. This example shows that a certain suspiciousness toward strangers can be quite justified.

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