No rise in crime after Germany opens borders
The lifting of border formalities between Germany and the neighbouring countries of Poland and the Czech Republic has not led to an increase in crime, police say.
3rd January 2008
Burglaries, thefts and motoring offences were about the same as before restrictions were lifted two weeks ago, but there had been more people trying to enter Germany illegally, they said.
Some people living in the four German states that share the 900-kilometre border with Poland and the Czech Republic had voiced fears of an increase in criminal activity after the borders were opened.
"The situation is normal just as it was before" Poland joined the Schengen zone, police spokesman Axel Falkenberg said in Anklam, a town in the northern state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.
He said there had been some cases of theft involving Polish citizens, but these were not connected to the lifting of border restrictions on December 20.
Since Poland and other Eastern European countries joined the Schengen zone, there had been a total of 28 people detained for entering Germany illegally, Falkenberg said.
On Christmas Day, police stopped five Polish taxis carrying 18 Chechen would-be immigrants and sent them back across the border after finding their papers were not in order.
While most politicians welcomed the extension of passport-free travel to 24 countries, most of them in the European Union, some warned that illegal migration and crime would increase.
In addition to Poland and the Czech Republic, Malta, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovak joined the Schengen zone last month.
The lifting of restrictions applies to land and sea travel. Airline travellers will have to wait until the end of March for border formalities to be lifted.