Crime is rising in Paris as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a severe economic impact, with residents of the ‘Chinatown’ district increasingly resorting to private security groups to protect homes and businesses.
Burglaries have shown a particularly alarming increase after lockdown ended in June and muggings are also more frequent, especially on public transport. Burglaries of businesses are up 60 per cent and muggings have increased by 2.4 per cent, according to police statistics reported by Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday.
“The [security] situation continues to deteriorate,” the paper commented. “With Covid, violence is developing and ever younger criminals are adapting. Lacking tourists, they are turning on commuters in the Métro… and snatching their laptops. Thefts with violence and burglaries of businesses are exploding.”
In Paris’s 13th arrondissement, a normally tranquil district of modern high-rises with a large Chinese and east Asian population, many residents are turning in desperation to private security groups. Le Parisien commented that a plan to form what it described as “a private police force” financed by residents portended ill for the capital’s future.
Valérie Pécresse, the conservative president of the Paris region, is calling for facial recognition technology to be deployed more widely in the capital to trace thieves, as it has been in the Riviera city of Nice.
The new figures for Paris come out after a summer crimewave on the Riviera and in other French cities shaken by turf wars among drugs gangs.
Rémy Heitz, the Paris public prosecutor, said the rising crime figures reflected reality on the ground. The lockdown suspended much criminal activity and thieves have been trying to make up for lost time, he said.
“Since the summer, we’ve observed [criminal groups] trying to regain territory, which leads to fighting linked with drugs trafficking or street hawking.”
Mr Heitz added that the increase in burglaries was worst in the wealthy 6th, 7th and 16th arrondissements of Paris.
Watch: Nearly 300 fugitives wanted for crimes across Europe arrested in lockdown