Rise in burglaries blamed on foreigners

Police say anecdotal evidence supports claim that foreigners are behind the rise in burglary reports and charges in Jutland, but statistics cannot confirm allegation

April 24th, 2012 12:56 pm| by admin
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Burglary charges in much of Jutland have risen by as much as 212 percent over the past three years, according to police statistics that were released today.

According to Jens Henrik Højberg, the head of Denmark’s national police Rigspolitiet, travelling criminals from eastern Europe are responsible for much of the rise.

“A portion of the crime is committed by foreign networks,” Højberg said. “That’s what we have seen in middle and west Jutland where there are many active criminals from the Baltic states."

The article arrives a fortnight after Jyllands-Posten reported how civil servants failed to provide evidence of a rise in cross border crime that was used as a justification by the former government to introduce tighter border controls.

But while today’s article in Berlingske newspaper – entitled ‘Criminal foreigners cross Denmark’s borders’ – identifies a rise in burglary charges and reports, the police chief admits that the statistics do not specify what portion are foreigners who travelled to Denmark with the express purpose of committing crime.

Instead, Højberg states that anecdotal evidence suggests a large number of foreign criminals operating in Denmark.

“They are clearly present even though it is different to find a precise number,” Højberg said.

Middle and West Jutland Police have clearer statistics about the prevalence of foreign criminals and report that every third person they arrest is from Lithuania. They currently have 32 Lithuanians in custody.

“We have a real problem with Lithuanians coming here simply to commit crime,” the police force’s deputy chief superintendent, Michael Kjeldgaard, told Berlginske. He added that Lithuanians have long worked in the region’s timber, dairy, and mink industries, which could explain their prevalence in the region.

According to the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), roving criminal gangs are a problem that need to be tackled through increased co-operation with foreign police forces.

“Like the rest of Europe, in Denmark we have problems with wandering gangs that are responsible for organised crime,” Bødskov told Berlingske. “The crime involves burglary, human trafficking, smuggling and drugs. That is why the police are strengthening their European co-operation with the goal of tackling cross-border crime.”

Across Denmark, reports of break-ins have dropped by one percent in 2012 compared to the average between 2009 and 2011 while charges have gone up 27 percent.

Copenhagen has seen the greatest drop in reports of burglary, down 26 percent, while north Zealand saw the greatest drop in the number of charges, down 22 percent.

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