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Crime in first half of 2020 up 8% thanks to lockdown

© Belga

The number of crimes recorded in the first half of 2020 was up by 8% compared to the same period in 2019 a five-year record, according to figures just released by the federal police.

In total, there were 479,775 reported to police in the months January to June 2020, compared to 444,195 in the same period of 2019, despite the strict lockdown in force last year during that time.

The number was the highest since 2014.

However the lockdown was itself responsible for the majority of the increase, with 112,838 infringements of public health laws – including offences against the rules introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Those include bars operating illegally, gatherings of people over the limits allowed, non-essential travel and so on.

The number of offences in that category in the first half of 2019 came to a mere 810.

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Take away that exceptional increase in one type of offence, and the numbers suddenly appear more positive. Discounting offences against corona regulations, the crime figures for the period were generally down.

That includes 1,000 fewer car thefts, 7,000 fewer thefts from vehicles, and 3,000 fewer bicycle thefts (numbers are approximate).

Car-jackings and garage thefts were down, as were robberies involving weapons and/or violence.

And it goes on: 6,600 fewer home burglaries and 1,300 fewer at business properties; 3,500 fewer cases of shoplifting (most shops were closed for part of the period) and almost 6,000 fewer cases of pickpocketing, as social distancing made it more difficult for thieves to get close enough to victims.

Some crimes did prosper, however, particularly online. Cases of phishing, for example, reached 3,438, more in six months than the whole of 2019 and 2018. Police recorded 35,571 online offences of all kinds, including hacking and online banking offences.

In brief, anything that could be carried on indoors saw increases, while offences carried out in public were reduced.

So there were almost 10,000 fewer cases of burglary and theft, but almost 18,000 more cases of fraud, including fraud with identity cards and bank cards.

And lastly, cases of domestic violence were up to almost 10,000, with another 7,000 reports of psychological violence within couples.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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