Property crime fell during disengagement [pg. 4]

Property crime in the center of the country fell during the withdrawal from Gaza, Central District Police said on Thursday. "The public was at home following the disengagement program and carried out fewer crimes," Dep.-Cmdr. Aharon Franco, the acting head of the Central Region, said in an interview. He was speaking on the sidelines of the unit's annual conference in Ramle. A police spokesman also attributed the fall to the closure of the border with the Palestinian Authority, as this made it harder for thieves to enter the region. The phenomenon occurred despite the police having to divert resources from its regular tasks, said Franco. Crime in the region fell 2.4% in 2005 overall, although this was less than the national drop of 5.5%. The figure in the south fell 13%, in Tel Aviv 3.8% and in Jerusalem 3.1%. The number of arrests in the Central District, which comprises the Sharon and Shefela regions and Ben-Gurion Airport, increased 7% in 2005, while the number of murder files remained unchanged from a year earlier at 35. There was an increase in attempted murders but slight falls in overall violent crimes and robberies. Property crime rose 8% as car theft surged 27% and house break-ins jumped 15% - two figures that appear to be related. "The biggest problem is property crime, especially car crime. We are seeing an increase in the amount of "double" [robberies], where the thieves break into apartments, take the car keys and steal the cars," he said. On a more positive note, there were steep falls in youth crime and drugs offenses, with the figures falling 20% and 25% respectively.