Crime crackdown launched

After crime rates across the city soared in the first few months of the year, authorities cracked down on petty criminals in the Attica area yesterday in an operation involving more than 2,000 police officers. The 24-hour drill, known by its code name, «Polis,» was scheduled to end at 6 a.m. today with police targeting abandoned homes and warehouses where illegal immigrants often seek shelter. A similar operation was held at the beginning of last December. Police want to bring down the number of crimes – many of which have become increasingly violent – in the capital. Sources indicate that there have been 40 armed bank robberies since the start of the year compared to only 17 in all of 2005. Yesterday’s operation, however, was criticized by the Association of Attica Police Officers, who dismissed «Polis» as a public relations exercise. The employee group said the police force is understaffed by 40 percent and accused the conservative government of reacting only to the negative publicity after the release of the crime statistics. Following a senior police meeting on Monday to discuss rising crime, recently appointed Police Chief Anastassis Dimoschakis met with Bank of Greece Governor Nicholas Garganas yesterday to discuss how to better protect banks. The two approved the installation of more protective barriers, the placement of bulletproof windows, the improvement of electronic surveillance systems and an increase in the number of security guards at branches. Dimoschakis is also expected to meet soon with the president of the Hellenic Bank Association, Takis Arapoglou, on the same issue. Meanwhile, heads have started to roll at regional police offices over the management of resources in crime fighting. The leaders of police forces in the areas of Oropos and Kalamos, northern Attica were both replaced yesterday, only days after they pointed out that staff shortages were hindering their work.