The second edition of the Gaudi operation against pickpockets allowed police to apprehend 520 offenders residing in the country illegally, announced Theo Francken (N-VA), Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, on Monday. The operation took place in 11 Belgian cities between May 18th and June 15th. After a successful first attempt in Antwerp, Molenbeek, Brussells, Liege, Ghent, Leuven, and Charleroi earlier this year, Gaudi II added Courtrai, Ostend, Alost, and Mons to the list of cities involved. “We have implemented an even closer relationship with local police forces and security advisers,” rejoiced Mr. Francken.
The Secretary of State was happy with the results of Gaudi II. The number of illegal offenders arrested has more than doubled, from 252 to 520, mostly for theft. Detentions were multiplied by 4 (from 22 to 93), and one third involved people already known to the police. 14 offenders were sent to prison.
“We chose to take action shortly before the sales season. This type of crime is a major hurdle for retailers and the general public. The previous Gaudi operation took place during the winter sales. This time we decided to go for prevention by getting offenders, often repeat offenders, off the streets before they could commit any offense during the summer sales season. We focused on illegal migrants demonstrating anti-social behaviour who are damaging our social fabric. Those who take advantage of our hospitality in this way are not welcome,” added the Secretary of State.