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5. Property offences

Offences against property include theft and extortions, and damage to movable or immovable property. These are the most common offences and correspond to more than 85% of the reports recorded by the police. Faced with such a widespread crime, accurate monitoring the picture of these phenomena must be improved. Where there are changes, it is crucial to identify the new operating methods or new types of crime, recording the type of theft, places, and the profiles of offenders and victims, in order to respond in a comprehensive manner.

In the case of thefts, the operating method should be distinguished (pickpocketing, snatching, shoplifting, deception, etc.). Where a theft is accompanied by violence or threat, such as armed robbery, this constitutes an aggravating circumstance. There is therefore a relationship with the topic “Offences against the person”, even though the main purpose here is the acquisition of property rather than aggression.

The attention of the competent services will focus on certain locations, such as restaurants and bars, shops at particular risk (pharmacies, jewellers), public transport, tourist sites and crowded places. Crimes are most likely to be committed in the public street. Private homes (burglary), business premises and building sites are other places identified.

Furthermore, the time of day proper to each type of theft demonstrates the need to understand these practices to develop appropriate prevention measures and a visible presence as a deterrent, or to catch offenders in the act (restaurants and bars in the evening, building site thefts at night, burglaries during the middle of the day, pickpocketing on public transport at busy times, etc.).

A victim-oriented approach leads to particular measures for prevention, response and monitoring. Theft by deception and some thefts accompanied by violence (e.g. snatching gold chains) often affect elderly people because of their physical or mental vulnerability. Because of their vulnerability and a degree of social isolation, an adapted approach is necessary that takes account of the fact that this part of the population does not always have access to communication methods such as the Internet and social networks. In terms of response, parliament has already established harsher penalties where the victim is vulnerable.

Other categories of victims also call for a specific approach. These include tourists, who are the preferred victims of pickpockets, and children, who fall prey to racketeering at school or on the way school.

Offenders also vary by age and profile. Many thefts are the result of material insecurity or are committed by young people experimentally, without in any way justifying these acts. Other offenders take a systematic, organised approach to theft and handling stolen goods, which is covered under the separate heading of “organised crime”.

Depending on the type of crime and the place, the objects targeted inevitably vary. The goods most often taken from shops are basic necessities such as food and clothing, which indicates either some underlying type of social insecurity or the effect of our consumer society on certain groups. In other places, the target good are money, wallets and handbags, and technological devices such as cameras, computers and phones, or other objects of value like watches or jewellery.

In the case of damage, vandalism, including graffiti, can affect moveable goods, such as cars or urban furniture, or immoveable goods such as homes and buildings. Schools are also particular likely to be affected.