While the number of crimes reported in 2005 dropped by five percent, Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi warned on Monday that juvenile crime - if not eradicated - could prove to be a "country-wide plague."
According to statistics Karadi presented reporters during a press conference at the National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem, close to 493,000 reported crimes were dealt with by police during the past year in comparison to some 520,000 files opened in 2004.
While the statistics showed a positive decline in the level of crime, Karadi admitted that criminal organizations were continuing to wreak havoc across the country and were beginning to resemble Palestinian terror groups.
"The criminal organization's activities has escalated and certainly undermines the public's feeling of security," the police chief said. "Our approach to theses organizations needs to be exactly like our approach to terror groups."
Summing up the past year, Karadi highlighted the police's involvement in the disengagement from the Gaza Strip calling it the force's "largest operation." Alongside his satisfaction with the swift evacuation of the settlements, Karadi said there was certainly room to improve the police's crime-fighting capabilities.
The number of murders stayed the same in 2005 as the previous year at 139. The number of cars stolen went up by almost 5,000 in comparison to 2004.
Karadi noted that the murder of 17-year-old Ma'ayan Sapir in Rehovot by a juvenile delinquent last May prompted the police to crack down on juvenile crime. As a result, police opened some 6,300 files against juveniles - a 51 percent increase in compared to 2004. The number of rapes also went down in 2005 to 1,206 compared to 1,325 in 2004.
"Juvenile crime has become a major focus of our work," Karadi said noting the positive statistics have not solved juvenile crime."
Property-related crimes dropped by close to 4 percent in 2005 and while the number of break-ins to cars and businesses also decreased, the number of burglaries into private homes increased by 8 percent.
Karadi also announced plans to invest NIS 30 million in improving the police's level of service to the public including the deployment of "public service officers" in every police district.
"We do not have exact statistics on the number of people who refuse to report complaints to the police," Karadi said. "But if there is even one person who doesn't call the police because he is afraid he will receive poor service then that is a good enough reason for the police force to improve the level of service it provides."