Police hail 6% drop in violent crime

But traffic deaths, youth crimes increase.

crime scene 248 88 generic (photo credit: Courtesy)
crime scene 248 88 generic
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Police unveiled the annual report on crime for 2008 on Tuesday, and proudly cited a 6-percent drop in reported offenses (419,837) compared to 2007 (445,216). Incidence of violent crime fell by 6.4% in 2008 (32,297 violent offenses) compared with 2007 (34,392), and was down 11.7% from 2006 (36,493). There was, however, an increase in murders: 122 in 2008, compared to 118 a year earlier. There was also bad news from the roads, where a 3% increase in fatalities from accidents was recorded in 2008; 453 people died, compared to 433 in 2007. There were 5,189 cases of assault in 2008, down 4.8% from 2007. Youth violence rose significantly, with 33,325 offenses recorded last year, up from 31,682 in 2007. Police attributed the rise to increased enforcement. Sex offenses dropped by 4% in 2008 (4,634 cases) compared to 2007 (4,486). For crime scene investigation units, DNA has played an ever-increasing role. In 2008, 1,800 DNA samples were taken by CSI units from crime scenes, compared to 1,275 in 2007. Drug offenses rose 14%, with 5,001 such offenses recorded in 2008 compared to 4,042 the previous year. Police also seized more shipments of heroin and cocaine coming into Israel. In 2008, 43% of intercepted heroin was smuggled from Lebanon, 37% from Jordan, and 12% from Egypt. There was good news on the property crimes front. Home burglaries dropped to 33,190 in 2008, down 13% from 2007 (38,286) and 20% from 2006 (42,193). Break-ins at businesses fell by 16% (52,176 in 2008, 10,520 in 2007), while vehicle break-ins went down by 13% (40,010 in 2008 compared to 31,707 in 2007). Auto thefts also fell, by a dramatic 24% in 2008 (25,615 cars stolen) compared to 2006 (34,427). A total of 30,977 cars were stolen in 2007. Subarus were most popular with thieves last year; 1,600 were taken. As for the war on organized crime, police said nine mob bosses were currently in custody, including Meir and Itzik Abergil, who are awaiting deportation to the US; Asi Abutbul; and Amir Mulner, one of the suspects in the assassination of mob kingpin Ya'acov Alperon. Police in the Southern District were confronted with 2,075 incidents of projectile fire from Gaza in 2008 - a large increase from 2007, when 1,120 rockets and mortar shells were fired. Police chief Insp.-Gen. David Cohen set three targets for police in the coming years: effective crime-fighting, bolstering local police stations, and waging war on traffic accidents. "There are good police forces in the world, but surely there are no forces who face such a wide range of challenges and missions like the three challenges faced by the Israel Police - on the criminal front, violent disorders, and counterterrorism," Cohen said on Tuesday.