Criminals use symbols to mark homes in Wiesbaden
February 19, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany -- A recent break-in at a service member's off-post residence in Eltville led German police to share a warning with their U.S. military counterparts to be on the lookout for criminals who may be targeting homes in the Rhein-Main area.
According to a crime prevention flyer from the Wiesbaden Criminal Investigation Command Office, a service member assigned to Clay Kaserne was the victim of a burglary while the individual was away on temporary duty.
"Once her house was noticeably unoccupied for several days, the group marked her residence using symbols drawn in the snow," the German police reported. "The group returned and broke in, stealing numerous pieces of jewelry, loose euro cash and other small items with a total value of approximately $700.
"The group broke in through a glass rear patio door," the report continued, explaining that the resident's window/door metal shades (German rolladen) had not been lowered while the inhabitant was away.
The German police also reported finding several symbols drawn in the snow which most likely indicated the status of the dwelling. A triangle symbol reportedly means "woman living alone," a sawtooth, "vicious dog" and circle with arrows, "worth looking into."
"Based upon the correct symbols, the group had obviously performed surveillance on the residence prior to the service member departing on TDY," according to the report, which confirmed that the female service member indeed owned a German shepherd (which was boarded elsewhere during her absence).
The German police reported that since November 2012, 28 other homes were also burglarized by the same group in the Rhein-Main area.
The symbols are usually drawn on the sidewalk or brick/stone area near the mailbox in chalk or another form of marker.
All U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden residents are reminded to always remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings and any suspicious markings. Off-post residents should secure their rolladen (window security shades), if equipped, when departing for an extended period of time.
People should also consider having a close friend or trusted unit member conduct periodic checks of their residences when away for any period of time, picking up mail/newspapers and shoveling snow to give the impression that someone is home, military law enforcement officers said. "It is also a good idea to get to know your neighbors and inform them when you will be away, so they can notify law enforcement of any suspicious activity in/around your residence."
Anyone who notices suspicious individuals or markings around their homes, should photograph any markings and notify the German or Military Police. To report criminal activity or suspicious activity in USAG Grafenwoehr, call the MP Desk at DSN 476-2490 / 3398, Civ. 09662-83-2490 / 3398.