Surge in violent robberies in Luxembourg, overall crime up
There was a surge in robberies in Luxembourg last year, with more than 500 such incidents, police said on Thursday, despite the use of private security agents in the country’s capital amid ongoing concerns over crime levels.
The 16% jump in thefts involving violence can be attributed to a spate of attacks mainly centred on Luxembourg City at the start of 2021, said the director of administrative policing, Pascal Peters, during the presentation of annual crime statistics.
"It was mainly high-value items, such as watches and necklaces, that were stolen. Most of the perpetrators have been identified, even arrested,” he said.
Last year saw the withdrawal of private security agents from the Gare area of the capital. They were first hired two years ago, following protests by residents calling for greater action to tackle what they said were increased levels of crime and drug dealing.
The decision led to a split between the central government and the city council, which hired the agents. Internal Security Minister Henri Kox had said that "nothing justifies the privatisation" of security services to maintain public order.
There were almost 44,000 crimes reported overall in Luxembourg last year, a near 7% rise on 2020, according to Thursday's report.
Police officers were on the receiving end of increased violence, Kox told the press conference. “I think that violence towards police officers has certainly increased in recent years, and we are also seeing a spitting phenomenon."
There was a big increase in attacks on businesses, with 19 incidents reported at petrol stations and shops – as well as the first bank robbery in several years - more than double the average annual total in the years since 2017.
While reports of burglaries decreased – attributed to more people staying at home due to the pandemic – other areas of offences increased.
There were almost 1,000 bikes stolen last year, up by 12%, while offences such as shoplifting and pickpocketing also rose sharply, increasing by almost a fifth since 2020. Petrol theft at stations had “increased dramatically”, said Peters.
Police identified a suspect in just over half of all recorded crimes, the report said.
The country will hire an additional 1,000 police officers over the next five years, Kox said in October. That promise, along with a government proposal on how to handle drug-related crime, saw Luxembourg City Council decide not to renew the private security contract when it expired towards the end of last year. The council has said it will consult residents before deciding on the next steps.
(Additional reporting by Steve Remesch)