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After “plea for help” on Facebook: Branch manager complains about stealing migrants – Edeka distances itself

A few days ago, the post of a chief executive of six Edeka branches in the Oberpfalz caused a lot of discussion. For Konstantin Gatzke, it was a “call for help” after numerous thefts in his stores, which the politicians should hear. The contentious issue: The businessman emphasized in his now deleted post on Facebook that residents from asylum homes were supposed to have committed the crimes.

After “plea for help” on Facebook: Edeka CEO receives hate messages

On right-wing platforms, Gatzke received great applause for his statements. However, there was criticism from left-wing groups – up to hateful messages and animosity. However, as it now turns out, everything could be based on a misunderstanding. Because the Edeka operator always was concerned about the fight against thefts, as he says – no matter from which country the perpetrators come.

Gatzke no longer gives interviews – also to protect his family. Nevertheless, he emphasizes again in a conversation with the AZ that his Facebook post was by no means meant to be racist. The man from Russia, who has been living in Germany for 33 years, has nothing against foreigners at all. Only the many thefts in his store would increasingly bother the business owner.

Formulation causes misunderstanding

How did the alleged misunderstanding come about? In his post, Gatzke wrote about “black-clad men” from asylum homes in Regensburg. These had regularly left his store without paying. The word “black” had been mistakenly interpreted by many people to refer to the skin color of the criminals. However, Gatzke was only concerned about the clothing of the perpetrators and the problem with the thefts. While “honest people” face rising costs, criminals “ruin” the economy, as he appealed on Facebook.

Edeka association expresses itself

In response to this post, the Edeka group also responded to AZ’s request: “As an independent entrepreneur, Mr. Gatzke took a stand on shoplifting in his store. He did not speak for the entire Edeka group, but only for himself.” In Edeka stores, everyone is welcome, regardless of their origin or any other factors.

Gatzke sees it the same way, as long as the shoppers also pay. Nevertheless, with his “plea for help,” he may have hit a sore spot. Statistics from the Regensburg police confirm that numerous people with a migration background commit crimes.

Number of thefts is increasing – authorities want to act against offenders

As the authority tells AZ, the investigators have noted an increase in thefts throughout the city – especially at the railway station and in the Donaueinkaufszentrum, where Gatzke’s store is located. There, half of all suspects have a Tunisian migration background. Nevertheless, according to the police, this is a “small group of people who seem to be responsible for a large number of offenses.”

The alleged perpetrators should already be stopped – through the “fastest possible” handling of criminal proceedings against repeat and multiple offenders. The responsible public prosecutor’s office should bring charges more quickly and resort to repressive measures, such as pretrial detention. This approach also targets thieves with German citizenship, who are responsible for about 25 percent of the crimes in Gatzke’s Edeka.

Prime Minister Aiwanger outraged

Migrant statement

Regarding the thefts in Regensburg, Bavaria’s deputy minister president Hubert Aiwanger also expressed his opinion. The leader of the Free Voters wrote shortly before Christmas Eve on the short message service X: “Theft by migrants should lead to deportation. But we don’t even get violent offenders out of the country.” Therefore, according to Aiwanger, it requires a policy and judiciary “that can represent the interests of OUR population without left-wing outrage.”

The deputy faction leader of the Greens in the Bavarian state parliament is outraged by these statements. “What is needed are law enforcement agencies with sufficient personnel. What is certainly not needed is a deputy minister president Aiwanger who can’t keep his hands off of dull and inflammatory tweets even under the Christmas tree,” Johannes Becher tells AZ. He accuses Aiwanger of abusing the incidents in the Upper Palatinate for his “populism agenda.”

Arif Haidary of the Bavarian Refugee Council, who is involved in the minor party “Mut,” shares a similar view. He describes Aiwanger’s statements as “right-wing fear-mongering” contributing to the division of society. “Such incidents should not be used for political and racist fear-mongering against refugees,” says Haidary to the AZ. The accommodation in anchor centers produces “precarious living conditions” and does not prevent crime. In the reception centers for asylum seekers, the right to self-determination is massively restricted, among other things, by work bans.

“Theft is not a matter of nationality”

Bernd Ohlmann from the Bavarian Trade Association also speaks plainly: “Gatzke is being exploited,” he comments to AZ. His Edeka is located next to asylum residences and is therefore frequented by people with a migration background. However, theft is not a “matter of nationality,” as Ohlmann emphasizes. “Everybody steals like crazy – the grandma, as well as the welfare recipient.”

According to Ohlmann, more than 30,000 reports are filed every year in Germany for stolen items. However, there is usually little outcome. This is a “million-dollar problem,” as Ohlmann says. Therefore, his advocacy group demands harsher penalties. As an example, the spokesman for the trade association cites temporary suspension of driver’s licenses.

Gatzke can also imagine tougher sanctions. The Edeka branch manager is already in contact with Ohlmann from the trade association and wants to advocate for changes as well. In the long run, the entrepreneur cannot bear the financial losses due to thefts. According to Gatzke, between 300 and 400 euros are lost every day.

By Alexander Spöri

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