Police struggle to arrest price tag vandals

Price tags attacks have increased dramatically in the past few years, from 28 incidents in 2011 to 56 incidents in 2012.

March 3, 2013 18:35
2 minute read.
Car with "price tag" graffiti [file]

Car with punctured tires, "price tag" graffiti [File]. (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)

Police arrested suspects in only 20 percent of the “pricetag” attacks that occurred in the Jerusalem region over the past year, Asst.-Ch. Yossi Prienti announced on Sunday as he released the Jerusalem District crime figures for 2012.

In the past year, there were 56 vandalism attacks motivated by racism, 90% of which were Jewish extremists destroying Arab property or spray-painting anti-Arab graffiti.

Police arrested suspects involved in 12 of the incidents, but the vast majority of the suspects were not indicted and released soon afterward.

Prienti said the police opened a desk in January with 10 officers to deal with “price-tag” and racially motivated incidents. “Price-tag” incidents stem from a movement of extremist settlers who carry out vandalism to prove that the state and the army must “pay a price” for anti-settlement activity such as destroying illegally built homes.

Price-tag attacks have increased dramatically in the past few years, from 28 incidents in 2011 to 56 in 2012.

They include slashing tires of Arab cars, spray-painting anti- Arab graffiti, and vandalizing Muslim and Christian houses of worship. Prienti stressed the difficulty of apprehending suspects because the crimes can be committed so quickly and in so many places. “All it takes is a kid with a spray-paint can,” he said.

Overall, there was a slight increase of 3.1% of violent crime in Jerusalem. Police received 7,252 violent crime complaints in 2012, up from 7,032 in 2011 but still lower than the 2006 high of 7,776 complaints.

Muggings and personal theft also increased, from 208 incidents in 2011 to 228 in 2012. Prienti said this reflected a nationwide trend of slightly higher crime rates in 2012 than in past years.

Prienti also said that police detained 150 adults and minors for throwing rocks in east Jerusalem in 2012, part of a concentrated effort to halt the stone throwing before it grows out of control. He also wants to create another police station in east Jerusalem by carrying out a complete reorganization of the police officers in the Jerusalem area to provide more complete coverage to east Jerusalem, he said.

The new police district would not change the number of officers, just their assignments, he said.

Prienti touted the Jerusalem District’s 100% success rate for solving murders. Four people were murdered in Jerusalem in 2012, compared with five in 2011.

Jerusalem police dealt with a total of 76,344 complaints in 2012, and solved 32.7% of them.

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