Many people in Karlsfeld are terrified. The reason for this is a seriously criminal youth gang. Stabbing and sexual offenses are no longer uncommon. The small town in Bavaria, Germany, has around 21 000 residents.
A police officer, who has been in the field for 30 years and worked as a youth councillor at the Dachau police station since 2016, has noticed the decline in security in Karlsfeld. “I’ve never seen anything like this here,” he told German regional daily Münchner Merkur.
A seriously criminal youth gang is active in Karlsfeld and there is a climate of fear. The situation is so bad that there are young people who want to move away from home. One of them told his parents that he no longer wanted to live, “he was so afraid of this group,” said the officer, “Karlsfeld is now called ‘Little Chicago’.”
Two gang leaders at the centre of the problem
Two gang leaders — both asylum seekers and currently in prison — each have up to 30 followers, between the ages of 13 and 17, that blindly follow them, doing what they are told. “Many are only members because they are afraid of becoming victims themselves and being extorted.” This has degenerated into incidents of serious bodily harm, sexual offenses and brawls between the two groups.
Recently in Puchheim, a 16-year-old was critically injured in a knife fight. A 15-year-old suspect was arrested and the criminal investigation department is investigating the case.
In Karlsfeld, everything started in 2019 . When it got worse, Mayor Stefan Kolbe initiated the first roundtable. A day of action was then announced to address the problem.
The youth officer described how the gangs operate: Whenever a problem arose — one of the group was insulted, for example — part of the group immediately came to clarify the matter. “And now, almost everyone carries a knife with them.” And that is a “massive problem” according to the officer. Because, “when a knife is involved, you always have someone seriously injured and at some point maybe a dead person too.”
The group’s main leader, now 17, has been in custody since last summer, and his younger brother has been in custody since this spring. Both are accused of dangerous bodily harm and sexual offenses. The older one had even attacked his father with a knife. According to the police, both brothers have suffered serious trauma and psychological damage from fleeing their homes, starting with crimes such as theft and robbery, as well as “brutally violent” offences.
Gang created a climate of fear and intimidation in Karlsfeld
The fear that many of the gang victims suffer from is a massive problem for the police because the two brothers and now their successors in the gang have created such a fearful climate in Karlsfeld that even adults say: “I don’t want to lay charges, because I am afraid for my children.”
The police have heard of children who no longer want to leave the house, or want to move away. “The fear is huge in Karlsfeld.” There have also been acts of revenge because the imprisoned leaders had someone testify against them. There is a video that shows someone threatening someone who has been affected and saying: “They’re going to get down on their knees, kiss my feet and then we’ll hand it to both of them.”
The police appealed to those affected and their parents: “File a complaint against the perpetrators, give us a call.”
The police suspect that the number of crimes in Karlsfeld is far higher than known. “I don’t even want to know how many other crimes have been committed in which the victim has not said anything out of fear,” said the officer. He appealed to parents and those affected: “Report the perpetrators, give us a call.”
Increased police operation in Karlsfeld
The police have meanwhile launched efforts to break up the gang. Among other things, the police for some time now have had an increasingly stronger presence in Karlsfeld. They are in uniform, but also in civilian clothes and move around in larger units.
It has been quiet recently, but the officers cannot say with certainty whether it has been the success of the additional police officers on site, or because of the stabbing in Puchheim which has “intimidated” the gang. One thing is certain however: more police officers will be deployed in Karlsfeld.
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