The Greek Police (ELAS) is on high alert amid a spike in violent robberies and burglaries in recent months, with official figures, due to be released in the coming days, expected to point to a significant increase in such crimes over the past year.
The theft of a safety-deposit box from the Apivita cosmetics company at the industrial park of Markopoulo, northeast of Athens, on Friday morning was the latest in a long string of almost identical robberies in Attica and in Viotia, central Greece. The day before, unidentified robbers targeted the headquarters of pharmaceutical company Famar in Avlona, northern Attica. In that heist, five masked men immobilized the guard at gunpoint before breaking into the accounts office and making off with the company safe.
A senior officer told the Athens-Macedonia News Agency on Friday that police believe there are currently three gangs, armed with knives and guns, targeting safety-deposit boxes. He added that the largest gang is believed to consist of Eastern European nationals and the other two mostly of Greek Roma.
Cracking these gangs has become among the police’s top priorities, he said. “My assessment is that the two smaller gangs are imitating the actions of the larger gang,” the official said.
Apart from the activities of the safety deposit box gangs, ELAS is also concerned about a growing trend in violent robberies. The murder of a 70-year-old doctor in his apartment in central Athens earlier this month by burglars who remain at large is a case in point.