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Germany 2013 Crime and Safety Report

Europe > Germany > Berlin

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The Department of State assesses a “Low-Medium” rating for criminal activity in all German cities in which a U.S. diplomatic presence exists. Crime rates are comparable to those in most first-world countries, including the United States, and comparative analysis (All statistics crime data herein comes from the 2011 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “Uniform Crime Reports” ( and the 2011 Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) “Police Crime Statistics” report ( of crime data for the United States and Germany reveals only marginal differences: In 2011, violent crime affected an estimated 0.39 percent of the U.S. population and an estimated 0.24 percent of Germany’s population; theft-related crimes affected an estimated 2.9 percent of the U.S. population, compared to an estimated 3.0 percent of Germany’s population.

Germany experienced an overall increase of 1.0 percent in the total number of crimes reported from 2010 to 2011.

According to the 2011 BKA report, theft remains the predominate criminal offense throughout Germany, representing more than 40 percent of all recorded cases. The most common thefts, in rank order, are: shoplifting (385,462), theft of bicycles (328,748), thefts from vehicles (242,563), theft of non-cash means of payment (140,628), home burglaries (132,595), and motor vehicle thefts (41,057). 
Violent crime fell by 2.1 percent from 2010 to 2011, with small but statistically significant decreases in the number of recorded cases involving physical assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, and murders/manslaughters.

Non-violent crimes, including frauds, corruption, and environmental offenses experienced modest declines from 2010 levels, while cases involving drug use witnessed slight increases in 2011. Of particular note is the substantial decrease in the number of reported cases involving the fraudulent use of payment cards (-15.9 percent) and a marked reduction in heroin offenses (-24.4 percent). There was, however, a significant increase in amphetamine and methamphetamine offenses (+19.9 percent). 

Crime Statistics for Germany, CY 2010-2011

Type of Offense


# of Reported Cases


# of Reported Cases

Percent Change

Total All Offenses




Violent Crimes








            Rape and Aggravated Sexual Coercions








            Dangerous & Serious Bodily Harm




Non-Violent Crimes




            Thefts, all




            Frauds, all




            Corruption-related, all




            Environmental, all
















     Amphetamine &       Methamphetamine








Generally speaking, American tourists and expatriates are only infrequent victims of crime. Occasionally, Americans have purses snatched and pockets picked in high traffic and tourist areas (e.g., in train stations, Internet cafes, crowded restaurants, and outdoor market places), but violent crimes against Americans are rare. And while personal assaults do occur, there is no reason to believe such crimes are driven by anti-American sentiment. Rather, these and other crimes are normally the result of opportunity and convenience.

Payment card fraud and other bank and credit card-related fraud declined substantially in the past year. However, there are still reports of compromised bank and credit cards, even in well-known hotels and at high-visibility ATMs. 

OSAC members and individuals planning to visit Germany can find extensive information regarding crime statistics and German crime prevention programs on the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation website at

Overall Road Safety Situation

Road conditions vary significantly from region to region but are generally fair to good. One should exercise caution, however, while traveling on older roads, particularly in eastern Germany. Drivers should always remember that road conditions can deteriorate quickly with rain, ice, and snow. Consequently, minor and major traffic accidents occur frequently on many major highways and delays can last hours.

Road construction and road wear also present unique safety challenges. In general, road maintenance is a lower priority than in other well-developed countries (much of the infrastructure budget is spent on public transportation services, road and sidewalk environmental clean-up, and other non-maintenance items and services). As such, many roads experience deep and uneven rutting, causing grooves to form on seemingly flat and level road surfaces. This often results in hard and unexpected steering pull, which can lead to motor vehicle accidents for drivers unaccustomed to, or unaware of, conditions.

Speed limits in most cities are relatively low. The average speed limit is 50 kph (~30 mph) but drops to 30 kph in most residential areas and in school zones. Contrary to popular belief, there are also posted speed limits on large stretches of the Autobahn, mostly when traveling through urban areas and on stretches where road curves are more frequent. 

The leading causes of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents involving U.S. citizens are driver error (e.g., unfamiliar road signs, unusual driving customs and courtesies, etc.) and bicyclist hazards. Driver error can be attributed to simple confusion by American motorists driving in a foreign country. For example, even though double parking is illegal in most cities, the practice is an everyday occurrence on most streets. It is very common for lane traffic to stop abruptly when a delivery truck parks unexpectedly in a travel lane to unload cargo or when a driver places a car in reverse to occupy a street-side parking space. Thus, motorists must remain alert and attentive at all times, even when driving in seemingly well-moving traffic.

Bicyclists and bicycle traffic also pose a heightened risk for American motorists and pedestrians. Many sidewalks have dedicated bike lanes. Bicycles have priority use of these lanes. If you are walking, watch for bicyclists before crossing or stepping into bike lanes. Bicyclists also have priority over cars when turning onto side streets. If you are driving, check whether a bicyclist is approaching from either direction before attempting to enter side streets, even when the light is in your favor. If you strike a bicyclist using a marked bike lane, you will be held responsible for any injury or damage caused. 

Right-of-way and so-called yield laws are similar to those in rural U.S. cities but can seem awkward and confusing for drivers accustomed to driving in larger metropolitan areas. Unless you are traveling on a priority road, vehicles coming from the directional right have the right-of-way. It is also generally illegal to pass vehicles on the right-hand side.

It is illegal to leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident until both parties agree that it is alright to do so and before both parties have verified the validity of the other party’s insurance information. Drivers who leave the scene of an accident are frequently referred for prosecution by law enforcement authorities.

It is also illegal to use cell phones while driving, and police can detain and fine persons caught engaging in this practice.

For more information on travel, contact the German National Tourist Board Office in New York at (212) 661-7200, or via fax at (212) 661-7174. 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Political violence is a moderate concern. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution estimates there are roughly 26,000 supporters of the right-wing extremist neo-Nazi party. In November 2011, authorities uncovered a series of murders allegedly carried out by a right-wing terrorist cell known as the National Socialist Underground. According to reports, the three-member group killed at least 10 German nationals of mostly Turkish descent over the course of 13 years. In response, the government created a central database for monitoring violent right-wing extremists and continues to track and combat such groups.  

The threat of terrorism is present in all major German cities. Several international terrorist groups that target United States government personnel and interests operate within Germany, including al-Qa’ida, Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), and Kongra Gel (former Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK). The large number of official U.S. government personnel in Germany creates a significant potential target for terrorist groups. Additionally, continued government reporting reiterates the growing concern for the expanding international and indigenous radical Islamist presence in Germany. Interior Ministry officials estimate that there over 1,000 residents who could be described as Islamist extremists, some of whom attended terror training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As late as December 2012, the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maassen, expressed increasing concern over the growing number of German Islamists travelling to Egypt and Somalia, presumably for terror training. He highlighted that international Islamist terrorism continues to pose the greatest threat to Germany’s homeland security. 

The U.S. continues to work closely with European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and its key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen defenses against potential threats. German authorities continue to investigate extremist groups, deport or arrest individuals considered dangerous, and conduct raids on suspected groups throughout the country. 

Civil Unrest

Many well-planned and publicized demonstrations protesting government policies draw thousands of participants, and spontaneous demonstrations concerning education and other economic and social issues occur almost daily. Such demonstrations in Berlin typically take place on Unter den Linden near the Brandenburg Gate, in Munich at Marienplatz, and in Frankfurt at the Roemer City Hall and Opernplatz.

According to RSO Berlin, there were 13 declared protests with an anti-American sentiment in 2012. Themes included: Guantanamo Bay (GITMO prison facility), Bradley Manning (a United States Army soldier who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material to the website WikiLeaks), Cuban Five (alleged Cuban intelligence officers convicted in Miami of conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, acting as an agent of a foreign government, and other illegal activities in the United States), Leonard Peltier (convicted and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for first degree murder in the shooting of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents during a 1975 conflict on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation), the U.S. death penalty, and U.S. Middle East foreign policy.

In late 2012, two notable events occurred in Berlin that sparked widespread criticism throughout Europe and the United States: 1) the storming and seizure of the Nigerian Embassy, and 2) the vandalism of the Iranian Embassy. Police eventually regained controlled of the Nigerian Embassy and made arrests in both the Nigerian and Iranian incidents. However, European and U.S. officials strongly criticized German law enforcement authorities for their lack of timely response and the inadequate allocation of police resources to diplomatic facilities in and around Berlin.

In mid-2012, so-called “Occupy Wall Street” protestors in Frankfurt gathered to march and protest the dire financial situation across Europe. The protestors caused minor damage to some office buildings in and around downtown Frankfurt over a weekend.

Post-specific Concerns

Drug-related Crimes

Illegal drugs, particularly cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and marijuana, are widely available. The illegal sale and distribution of these and other drugs often occur near major train stations, public parks, and nightclubs. While drug-related activity does not usually affect American tourists or business travelers, Americans should be aware that Germany has the same types of drug-related crime as those encountered in any major U.S. city. 

Police Response

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

American tourists should contact the closest United States Embassy/Consulate if they are detained or harassed by local or national police. 

Where to Turn to for Assistance if You Become a Victim of Crime

American tourists are encouraged to contact the local police (dial 110 nationwide) if they are involved in an accident or become the victim of a crime and to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate for possible assistance. German authorities often contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate when an incident involving American tourists occurs. 

Various Police/Security Agencies 

There are two primary police agencies: the LKA and the BKA. The LKA is the local police agency responsible for traffic accidents, investigating crimes, enforcing local laws and ordinances, and responding to local emergencies.

The BKA is the federal police agency responsible for higher-level law enforcement actions, such as ambassadorial and Heads-of-State protection, national-level crime investigation (terrorist-related), collecting and analyzing national crime data, and other issues of national importance. In some ways, the BKA is akin to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States, but with significantly fewer law enforcement authorities.

Medical Emergencies

Contact Information for Recommended Local Hospitals and Clinics

The fire department and ambulance service may be reached by dialing 112. Germany has several university hospitals, which provide state-of-the-art medical care in most fields of medicine, including advanced cardiac surgery. Some of the largest hospitals (by region) are:

Charite Campus Benjamin Franklin Freie Universitatklinikum, Hindenburgdamm 30, Steglitz - Tel: 8445-0 (two helipads)
Charité Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Faculty of Humboldt University, Augusteburger Platz 1, Wedding - Tel: 450-50 (two helipads)
Charité Campus Mitte, Faculty of Humboldt University, Schumann Strauss 20-21, Mitte - Tel: 450-50

Universitaetklinikum, Mooren Strasse # 5, Dusseldorf - Tel: 49 0211-8100

St. Markus-Krankenhaus, Wilhelm-Epstein Strasse #2, Frankfurt - Tel: 069-95330
Unfall Klinik (Trauma Hospital), Friedberger Landstrasse 430, Frankfurt - Tel: 49 69-4750 (two trauma rooms)

UKE Eppendorf Hospital, Martinistrasse 52, Hamburg - Tel: 040-428030 http://www.uke.uni

Universitaetsklinikum Leipzig, Liebigstrasse 20, 04103 Leipzig - Tel: (0341)97-17300

Kilinikum Rechts der Isar, Ismaningerstrasse 22, Munich - Tel: 089-4140-2090

Recommended Air Ambulance Services

There are many worldwide air ambulance services that operate in and out of Germany and Europe, including:
Surgical Experts — Based in Germany, +49 176 2028 2223
European Air Ambulance — Based in Luxembourg, +49 711 7007 7007
International SOS — Based in Germany, +49 6102 3588 100

CDC Country-Specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides health-related travel information at: For additional information, travelers may contact the CDC directly at 1-800-232-4636.

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Germany has crime rates similar to those in other well-developed countries. As such, there are no special tips for avoiding victimization while visiting or living in Germany. American visitors should use the same common sense approaches to staying safe that they would in any large city. 

U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorist attacks against public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructures and should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling. 

The Department of State main website ( provides access to all U.S. Embassy websites, as well as travel warnings and security alerts.

U.S. Embassy/Consulate Location and Contact Information 

Embassy/Consulate Address and Hours of Operation 

Embassy Berlin
Pariser Platz 2
10117 Berlin
Federal Republic of Germany
Closed on American and German holidays

Embassy Berlin, Consular Annex at Clayallee:
Clayallee 170
14195 Berlin
Federal Republic of Germany
Routine American Citizen Services calls: (030) 8305-1200, 2:00-4:00 pm, Monday-Thursday.
Emergencies only: (030) 8305-0
Fax: (030) 8305-1215

Opening Hours: 8:30 am until 12:00 noon by appointment only, Monday-Friday, closed on American and German holidays

U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany Website:

Public Transport to the Consular Section: From the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), take any westbound train three stops to the Zoologischer Garten, transfer to the southbound U9 two stops to Spichernstrasse, then take the U3 southbound to Oskar-Helene-Heim. Buses from Zoo Station: X10, 110

Consulate General Frankfurt
Giessener Strasse 30 60435 Frankfurt am Main
Federal Republic of Germany
Routine American Citizen Services calls: (069) 7535- 2100, 2:00-4:00 pm, Monday-Friday.
Emergencies only: (069) 7535-0
Fax: (069) 7535-2359

Opening Hours: 7:30 am until 11:30 by appointment only, Monday-Friday, closed on American and German holidays

Consulate General Hamburg
Alsterufer 27/28 20354 Hamburg
Federal Republic of Germany
Tel:  (040) 411-71100
(no consular services)

Consulate General Leipzig
Wilhelm-Seyfferth-Strasse 4 04107 Leipzig
Federal Republic of Germany
Tel:  (0341) 213-84-0
(Emergency consular services only)

Consulate General Munich
Koeniginstrasse 5 80539 Muenchen
Federal Republic of Germany
Routine American Citizen Services calls: (089) 2888-575, 8:00 am-4:30 pm, Monday-Friday.
Emergencies only: (089) 2888-0
Fax: (089) 280-9998

Opening Hours: By appointment only, Monday-Friday, closed on American and German holidays.

Consulate General Dusseldorf
Willi-Becker-Allee 10, 40227 Dusseldorf
Federal Republic of Germany
Tel: (0211) 788-8927
(no consular services)

Consular Agency Bremen
Flughafenallee 18, 4th Floor, 28199 Bremen
Tel: (0421) 301-5860
Fax: (0421) 301-5861
(Only limited consular services are available)

Embassy/Consulate Contact Numbers

Berlin: 049-30-8305-0,

Frankfurt: 049-69-7535-2444 / 7502,

Munich: 049-89-2888-0,

Hamburg: 049-040-41171-300

Dusseldorf: 049-211-788-8927

Leipzig: 049-0341-0213-8411

Each location has a duty officer on call during non-business hours. Contact the telephone operator or Marine Security Guard at these locations if assistance is required. Operators are available on a 24/7 basis.   

OSAC Country Council Information

The Germany OSAC Country Council is in Frankfurt and rotates meeting locations. For more information, contact the Regional Security Office or visit