While in Berlin, I encountered this scam a number of times around the main tourist sites, particularly in the Museum Island district and Unter den Linden. A young boy or girl pretending to be deaf will approach you with a petition on a clipboard. They will thrust it at you saying nothing and trying to get you to read it and sign. Don't be tempted to do this as you will find yourself with a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other with your belongings just waiting to be be picked from your pockets while you are occupied with the petition. Usually the kids that do this travel in groups (they looked like gypsies) and soon you will be descended on by the whole group unless you firmly tell them NO!
I coudn't see many police (Polizei) on Berlin streets, neither at day nor at night. But they were watching somewhere, I was sure.
I felt very safe and comfortable coming back to my hotel from Kreuzburg (wide, empty but good lighted streets) to my hotel in Charlottenburg (not empty streets) around 2 am on Sunday. The same at not empty U-bahn stations and trains which I used that time.
But... like in every larger city never stop to watch your valuables esp. in crowded areas. I was told that there were few thefts who could tear your bag out of your hands and run away, hmm... difficult to believe for me now. I was told as well that there were robberies but in the suburbs of Berlin especially in former East Berlin and in Lichtenberg or Marzahn districts (skinheads and neonazists used to live there) and never or almost never in downtown/center of Berlin.
Just in case... call 110 - police emergency number or like in most European countries call 112 (ambulance and fire brigade in Berlin).
Keeping your wallet safe--- common sense is a prerequisite.
One method of keeping your wallet safe, which has never failed me, is to put it in an inside coat pocket, ( a front trouser pocket if you will be taking off your coat in a bar etc). Close the pocket with six small to medium sized safety pins, with three closure heads facing upwards, three closure heads facing downwards. It is worth the small inconvenience of opening and closing them when you need your cash, and you will always be aware if you are targeted by a pickpocket. Try opening six such pins in quick time, very very difficult.
Hope this helps.
I notice in many restuarant or bar we went to there were homeless people coming around to offer magazine copies for selling. I don't know if it was one of them, I just remember I had been approached by three when moments later I found 20 Euros had been taken from my pocket. Stupid me, yes! But watch your pockets, dont keep all your money in one. I didnt so it was ok though I hate to lose the money. It happened in the area of Oranienburger Tor right across from Tacheles which is many kind of place in one many artists work from here and you can watch. When we walked past an artist was making some statue of metal with spraying hot sparks everywhere. It was exciting. Cafe Zappata is there, a cinema, club and beergarden. Dont get too interested in everything that you dont watch your pockets like I did!
On the foto you will see breakdance performers who drew a large crowd of onlookers neat the Europe Centre. Crowds like there are prime targets for pickpockets because everyone is looking inward towards the dancers, often not paying attention to who is moving through the crowd.
O.K. I work in the music industry in concert touring with most "Global-Names", and obviously have to travel where ever the band play a show...
So, my advice to everyone travelling to a new city where they have never been before is use you common sense...think about the "does and donts" in your own home city and apply that principle equally to wherever you go.
Only take out enough cash that you need for the evening to pay for travel, food drink and entertainment. Dont put your cash in the rear of your trousers, top inside jacket pocket or where it can be easily removed by the "Lightfingered-Brigade"!!!
Only take one Credit Card out with you if you need to for an emergency, leave the other Cash/Credit Cards/Passport at the Hotel Safe with reception, or stash the wallet in a hidding place where the Maid wont look...be creative and devious...007 hiding techniques!
ATM Cash Machines
Extract your cash in the day light from machines...you can see who's lurking, and it's more difficuilt for theives to operate around them. Night time obviously provides cover and hiding places, so watch out!
Dont Forget Your Hotel Address!!!
I know from experience about this one! We had just finished an overnight drive from the last show venue to the next city where the band were playing and it was a day off...everyone checked into the hotel, slept a few hours then met up to go out and party.
So, at 4am in the morning, drunk and eating a Currywurst and chips, some one asked what the hotel address was as he'd ordered a cab...we could'nt remember!
So always, get a map, address and try and remember a building feature near your hotel so you can remember where you are staying...it also helps you to not being ripped off by dodgy Taxi Drivers!
Ladies with Handbags!
If you are out with a partner or a friend in a new city, keep the handbag between you and the person you are walking with...it is much more difficuilt for someone trying the snatching technique!!!
I would recommend ladies buy a can of "Pepperspray" or "CS-Gas" and if you are travelling by your own at night, tell someone your ETA, who your seeing and that you will call/txt them you are safe. Keep the spray in your pocket if waiting on a platform and stay close to the exit so you can escape if there is a problem. Same when on a train, stay close to the doors, alarm or someone who looks like they would respond to help you.
Dont get too drunk, wherever, whoever, you are!!!
When in Berlin, a chap tried to pickpocket me. Although i cannot recommend you follow my example, i dealt with this by punching the mans hand hard when he tried to grab my phone. He run aqay quite quickly!
Unfortunately I've had 2 times bad luck in Berlin, but pickpockets can cross your way in every city, so just use common sense and take care of your things like you do everywhere. Carry some emergency cash with you. Split it around, so if you lose one item, or get held up or whatever, not everything is lost at once. Maybe that will help me next time ;-)
Berlin has it's slums so be weary of travelling in these areas at night. Always be careful in large crowds. Pickpockets are everywhere in the world, Berlin is unfortunately not excluded.
Be carefull with your stuff because of the pocket pickers ( this stupid suckers are in every big city) special in the underground.