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A search is understood as the systematic, targeted search (or carried out with the help of the public) for people and objects. This is done for the purpose of averting danger or criminal prosecution .

People are searched for if they are in danger , e.g. B. missing are mentally ill or suicidal , they are as witnesses are needed or wanted for other reasons. People are also wanted who have committed crimes or are suspected of having committed such offenses. The persons are searched for either by pre- trial detention order , enforcement arrest warrant or by search warrant (in the case of danger prevention ). Things (objects) are searched for if they are related to criminal acts, this applies in particular to stolen property.

The Police Service Regulation 384.1 - RESTRICTED: Investigation governs the search for all German police (state police, federal police , BKA , the Federal Customs Administration ). It is supplemented by PDV 384.2 VS-NfD: Police observation . The PDV 388.1 VS-NfD also applies to the Federal Police . The abbreviation VS-NfD refers to the classified information. (Classified Information - For Official Use Only)

A distinction is made between general and targeted searches. A general search is the task of every law enforcement officer, the basis is the respective police situation report, often also the police professional experience. Successful searches usually result from the tactical measure of control . Targeted manhunt is described by various types of manhunt, for example: crime scene area manhunt, traffic route manhunt, priority manhunt, ring alert manhunt and others.

Persons and things are advertised for search nationally (e.g. in the German police information system ) or internationally (e.g. in the European Schengen Information System or in the Europol Information System (EIS)).

The largest types of searches according to effort in Germany are border, state and federal alarm searches.

Wanted targets

People wanted

The purpose of the search is varied, it is mainly based on the target (criminal prosecution or defense against danger) and the status of the wanted person. In detail, it aims to:

  • The arrest , detention or arrest ,
  • The determination of the current whereabouts (determination of whereabouts , in the case of missing persons or for the purpose of serving a court summons)
  • The detention for the purpose of identity or detention (z. B. Lacking minors) at things, it is the securing or seizure . As soon as the purpose of the search has been achieved, the search is revoked by the agency issuing the alert and the search measures are discontinued.

The search instruments are very diverse and diversified. They can also be combined and use modern technologies. The better the manhunt works, the higher the clearance rate .

Witnesses may also be put out to be searched if they can presumably contribute to the success of the investigation into criminal offenses of considerable importance ( Section 131a of the Code of Criminal Procedure ).

Property search

Search instruments for property searches include border controls (including airports), checks in pawn shops , at flea markets and the observation of auctions at domestic and foreign auction houses and on the Internet. Most of the manhunt work in property searches takes place through comparisons in the office. Here traces (information) are compared with the wanted inventory (INPOL, BKA sheet, telex, etc.). This procedure is called the office-like manhunt.

Border investigation

The border search describes the general or targeted search on the borders of the Federal Republic of Germany including domestic airports and seaports. It is part of the border police control within the meaning of Section 2 (2) No. 2b of the Federal Police Act.

Types of wanted

Ring alert manhunt

A ring alert (sometimes also called ring alert) is a special form of alert, which is also known as an immediate manhunt. It is triggered after a serious crime such as kidnapping, hostage-taking, bank robbery and the escape of particularly dangerous criminals, etc. The aim of this manhunt is to arrest them in order to prevent them from escaping.

After triggering the ring alarm manhunt, stopping or passage controls are set up around the scene of the crime at tactically favorable locations previously specified in the catalog within a radius that is determined by the control center. The radius around the scene of the crime or the incident is usually between 20 and 50 kilometers. The crime scene area search also runs within the ring . The decision about the radius of the ring is made after a distance-time calculation. If the triggering event was more than 30 minutes ago, only a ring 50 is possible. In Germany the legal basis for the establishment of the control bodies is the § 111 StPO.

If the ring alert search no longer promises success, the ring will be disbanded. This resolution is carried out by radio together with a password in order to prove to the patrolmen that the resolution of the search is being carried out by an authorized body. The further search then takes place, in addition to the use of the criminal police , as part of the patrol service .

Major manhunt

A major manhunt is not described in the relevant PDV 384.1 VS-NfD. In Feldmann / Hennings (2010), however, large-scale manhunt is described as a planned, prepared manhunt with strong forces in the event of serious criminal offenses or criminal offenses or dangerous situations that are of considerable concern to the population. The nationwide release is just as possible as a regional one.

Public search

In the case of public searches, the population is involved in the search, for example by making wanted posters or wanted photos public. The police sometimes hang up wanted posters in public spaces, for example in post offices, town halls or in catering establishments, or ask citizens for help via the media, for example on the local radio. For information leading to the arrest of fugitives or for evidence of things are by the police or the prosecutor or from individuals rewards awarded .

In the United States there is the profession of bounty hunter ( Bounty Hunter ), whose job it is to track down so-called deposit refugees and to live off the rewards.


Targeted manhunt is the planned, active search by the law enforcement authorities for selected criminals who are assessed as particularly dangerous or who are advertised for investigation because of particularly serious violent or economic offenses ( Sections 98a, 100a and 110a StPO). For this purpose, detectives conduct intensive investigations and, if necessary, travel to other countries to support the local authorities if there are concrete indications of the whereabouts of the target person.

Situation in Switzerland

Definition: Targeted manhunt is the literally implemented, targeted and intensive manhunt for a specially selected, numerically small group of serious criminals. The purpose is the systematic and comprehensive gathering of information that will lead to the determination of the whereabouts of the wanted criminal (s) and enable arrest.

Search measures are primarily taken in the case of serious crimes against life and limb, public offenses or crimes, the search for offenders in the field of organized crime and for escaped serious criminals and perpetrators dangerous to the public. Target searches in Switzerland are carried out exclusively by specialized search units of the federal government and the cantons , they are often of an international character and require close cooperation with foreign police authorities.

Management and operational resources

As operational resources in serious cases, one is police helicopter availed who has the air of a better overview and usually with a thermal imager is equipped.

Web links

Wiktionary: wanted  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Möllers (Ed.), Dictionary of the Police, Munich 2001, p. 541
  2. ^ Jörg Feldmann, Oliver Hennings: Kriminalistik für die Bundespolizei , Lübeck 2010, ISBN 978-3-00-029518-8 .