Crisis ‘fueled’ sharp rise in 2008 crime

Police revealed yesterday that crime figures shot up last year – by as much as a third in some areas – and the rise can most probably be attributed to the effects of the economic crisis. In figures made public by police chiefs, there were 67,799 thefts and break-ins reported across Greece last year, which represents an increase of 16 percent on 2007. The most common targets were vehicles, with 25.5 percent of thefts or break-ins being carried out by criminals looking to steal objects such as cash or car radios. The next most common target was homes, which accounted for 23.6 percent of thefts. The number of robberies also rose from 2,823 in 2007 to 3,293 last year. Vehicle theft also went up by 4.5 percent in 2008. Motorcycles and scooters account for the largest amount (56.4 percent) of vehicles reported stolen last year. Hoping to soften the harsh impact of the rising crime statistics, the police pointed out that the number of arrests had also gone up last year by 40 percent. Officers said that many of those caught are released soon afterward and reoffend or commit crimes again once they are let out of jail. The rate at which murders are solved also remains high, but the number of people killed rose from 128 to 139. Eight in 10 homicides resulted in arrests last year. Police believe that evidence that the rise in crime has been fueled by the tough economic conditions is also evident in the sharp increase in fraud. The number of economic fraud cases rose by 38 percent in 2008 to 1,359. Forgery also rose by a quarter, while the number of people arrested for begging increased by 63 percent. More than 15,500 people were charged with crimes last year.

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