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Safety: Beware of Fake Police Officers

If you are approached by a police officer and asked to open your bag for a thorough search for drugs, don't be too alarmed: It might be a trickster looking for your cash.
Jacket with the sign of the Berlin Police
Jacket of a Berlin police officer: If in doubt, please ask for a police ID or call 110. © dpa

Time and time again, tourists in Berlin are approached by tricksters who masquerade as police officers. They pretend to search tourists for drugs or counterfeit money while stealing their cash and credit cards.

How do the fake police officers operate?

The tricksters usually come in groups of three. The first approaches their victim to ask for directions or something similarly harmless. Then the two others appear, claim to be police officers und search the victim's bags- usually under the pretence of looking for drugs or counterfeit money. While searching, they take at least some of the money and credit cards from inside the bag.

How do I recognise a fake police officer?

The tricksters are often in plain clothes, some wear a uniform. If the one or the other kind approach you to search your bag, please ask them to show you their police ID. Samples of Berlin police IDs are available in the linked PDF at the bottom of this page. If you are not sure what to make of the situation, you can also contact the police by phone at 110.

What can I do to protect myself from fake police officers?

Berlin visitors are advised to carry only the cash they need and not to mention the pin codes of any credit card or cash card to anybody. To prevent this kind of theft altogether, please do not hesitate to ask for the officer's ID card if you are not sure. If it is too late and you realise that you have already been robbed by a fake policeman, please call 110.

What does a police ID in Berlin look like?

The local police have compiled a flyer about fake police officers that includes pictures of what police IDs in Berlin can look like. The flyer is English:

Polizisten in Berlin

Police

Police stations, emergency numbers and other information about the police in Berlin. more »
Source: Berlin.de/Polizei Berlin
Last edited: 8. January 2016

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(Bilder: Polizei Berlin; dpa; Accorhotels 2012; VisitBerlin; BerlinOnline/argus/flashpics/fotolia.com; Antje Kraschinski)