Crime in Athenian streets has become commonplace, to such an extent that the details of criminal incidents are no longer even reported in the press. News of daily armed robberies is spread by word of mouth through the neighborhoods, producing a chain reaction of fear. Police officials openly admit – in a virtual confession of weakness – that there are too few officers available to man the patrols necessary for preventive action. At the same time, it was reported that the Ministry of Public Order has recruited thousands of border guards and sent them to scour Palaio Faliron for illegal immigrants. The same ministry, which has failed to reinforce police presence in urban areas, is said to be taking quick steps to re-establish a rural guard. Thousands of rural guards will be recruited, but the purpose of the force is still unclear. Fuming Technical Chamber officials on Wednesday pointed to the overlap between the proposed force and the existing environmental authorities. In another development, it was announced that the new biometric passports will be issued by the police only. Given the technically challenging nature of this work and the tight time frames facing police stations, one wonders how already overstretched police officers will manage to meet these new obligations. The situation is absurd. Instead of reinforcing the police presence to curb ordinary crime – which is, of course, a threat to normality and social cohesion – instead of recruiting qualified staff to serve citizens, instead of recalling thousands of policemen currently guarding the «rich and famous,» the Public Order Ministry has decided to establish a rural guard. As the Omonia, Acropolis and Exarchia neighborhoods are plunged deeper into crime, the state is setting out to guard Greece’s fields and farms.