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Report Confirms Widespread Crime in Israel but No Organized Underworld Burglary Heads List of Crime

A police report submitted to the Cabinet confirmed the widespread incidence of crime in Israel but claimed there was no organized underworld such as exists in many Western countries. The 158-page report by an ad hoc police committee headed by deputy commander Michael Buchner, said that crime, nevertheless, was professional and sophisticated and cost the public huge sums annually.

The report was made public at a press conference following the weekly Cabinet session. Interior Minister Yosef Burg told newsmen that lack of funds was one of the major obstacles to waging war on crime. According to the Buchner committee report, burglary heads the list of criminal activity in Israel.

The report said there were 48,000 burglaries in 1976 resulting in the loss of some IL 200 million. Only 13 percent of the cases were solved. The second most prevalent crime, the report said, was trafficking in drugs, financed mainly by money from other criminal activities. Other crimes, in descending order of frequency were threats to potential witnesses; robberies accompanied by violence; murder; malicious arson as a means of “settling accounts”; blackmail; and large-scale violations of economic regulations.

The report said there were several groups in Israel engaged in crime but no one specific group or person that controlled underworld activity. The report said there were only a few attempts to enlist civil servants in the criminal system. Those cases uncovered were dealt with by standard legal procedures, the police said.

The report faulted the police and the judicial system for not initiating appropriate changes to combat crime. Burg said crime was financed by “tens of billions of Pounds” which makes it difficult to fight with funds available to the authorities. A few days earlier, Premier Menachem Begin, addressing a swearing-in ceremony for judges, expressed concern about the rising crime rate in the country and urged that strong measures be taken to end it.

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