Foreign Criminals Find Cover in Germany’s Migrant Tide
Police say offenders from elsewhere in Europe are trying to pass as newly arrived refugeesBy Ruth Bender
March 10, 2016 6:11 p.m. ET
BERLIN—On a recent night, police chased a group of Albanian men suspected of repeatedly robbing shops in and around the German capital.
After the chase ended in a shootout that left the driver of the getaway car dead, police seized stolen goods at the addresses the Albanians had called home: Three refugee shelters across town.
With their hands already full as they deal with the biggest wave of migrants into Germany since the end of World War II, authorities here are facing an additional problem: criminal tourism from Europe.
The unwanted guests—many of them from Eastern Europe or men of North-African origin already established on the continent—have been passing as some of the more newly arrived refugees, officials say, blending into the 1.1 million asylum seekers who came into the country last year.
“Given the migration wave taking place right now, it appears not just refugees are exchanging routes on social networks,” said Bodo Pfalzgraf, head of German police union DPoIG in Berlin. “So do hustlers.”
While affluent Germany has long been a magnet for international criminals, security officials warn that the migrant crisis has created a new opportunity for offenders across Europe—offering them a good cover, sometimes even state handouts reserved for war and political refugees, and a distraction for the authorities.