Friday, March 25, 2011

Heidelberg Crime Watch

A girl from my husband's work was walking home around 11pm along the main, well-lit road between Neuenheimer Feld and Handschuhsheim when she was mugged. Mugged as in, they didn't just grab her bag and run, but they came up behind her, and when she turned around because she thought she heard something, they hit her so that she fell down, then held her down to steal her bag and ran. It happened so fast and the person concealed themselves enough that she didn't even know if it was a man or woman.

Everybody was pretty shocked to hear the story. I think we're all pretty complacent because you never hear of anything like this happening. Everyone gets their bike stolen, but to get knocked to the ground and mugged!? That's awfully violent and personal. So we were all even more surprised to hear that when she called the police, they told her there's been a rash of crimes just like this in that same area, and that sometimes they even target bikers. I don't know about you but I always figure I'm safe on my bike.

In Boston, when there were nasty crimes like this in the area of our work/school, there would be notices up on the boards and via email about it, but apparently they don't do that here. So, I'm doing it here just in case any fellow HeidelbergerInnen are reading. Careful out there!


  1. Wow! That is shocking to hear. I hope she's okay!

  2. There's a reason why the university started hiring security guards to escort women after dusk. Started 10 years ago. Last time i was there the posters were still up at every bus stop.

  3. OK, I had a whole comment about about WalkSafe, but it was lost somehow. Anyways, I think WalkSafe(TM?) is really just a way for the Uni to cover their asses. My points were roughly as follows:

    1. It only runs until 2:00. With the logistics of waiting on an escort, that probably actually means somewhat earlier. Of course, you just say not to work so late, but often that's often not a real choice for academics (and especially foreign academics), who aren't protected by the same employment laws as "real" university employees.

    2. It's only for women. Men are more resistant to certain types of violent crime, but anyone can be mugged.

    3. Of the places that they'll take you (workplace, car, tram/bus stop, dorm), the only real choice for many (probably even most) people is the tram/bus stop. Do they drop you off, or do they wait with you? Are you safe on your walk home from the end tram/bus stop to you home?

    4. What about people who commute via bike/people who don't live near a place convenient to public transit?

    5. In order to be on the look-out, you have to know there's a problem. One constantly hears about how safe Heidelberg/Germany is, but little dark secrets are usually discussed in German. Also, the WalkSafe website (and I assume the posters) are *entirely* in German. What about people who don't read/understand German? There are a LOT at the University (the Uni even encourages them to come). However, even native German-speakers (including native Heidelberger) were shocked to hear that this could happen in HD.

    I think there was more, but I don't want to spend lots of time on it if blogger is going to eat my post again.

  4. @Damon Does the WalkSafe employee walk back alone after providing an escort? It sounds like a lady-who-swallowed-the-fly problem.

  5. @Damon: Fully agree with all points.

    However, there are about 1000 socalled "violent crimes" in Heidelberg every year - assault, battery, muggings, homicide. And the Feld isn't any sort of hotbed for that.

    Before WalkSafe, the Feld was a hotbed for rape, something that has significantly changed since then. The program is claimed to be rather successful in that regard.
    Of course it doesn't just involve the escort services. As part of it, lightened paths were also improved, and bushes etc were removed to remove hiding places.

  6. I guess that's one good thing about living in such a boring place as Koblenz. The crime rate is very low here.

    It's normal to see women walking alone even late at night.


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