Leading North Rine-Westphalian (NRW) interior ministers were informed as early as October 2014, offenses by groups of North African men who lived in refugee camps in North Rhine-Westphalia. In order not to alarm the population, they chose to keep this information from the public. This became evident from the minutes of a Civil Liberties Committee hearing on 23 October, 2014.
The offenses included excessive consumption of alcohol, attacking and harassing citizens, shoplifting and insulting passers-by in places like Wickede, Hemer and Urbach.
The internal experts agreed at the time that such incidents could foment "fear" of refugees and shift "the public perception tilt", according to State Secretary Nebe. Also free Democrat Joachim Stamp warned his colleagues in 2014, that such incidents could "quickly become exploited by interested parties to change the mood". We must "be happy" about "the current sensible media coverage about the increasing numbers of refugees".