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The Crime Rates in the Republic of Cyprus (2012)

Given what you'll read on most websites dealing with Aphrodite's Isle, it is easy to believe that crime rates in Cyprus are non-existant. But how does reality measure up to all these claims?

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The simple fact is that crime rates in Cyprus really are very low

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Then again, most of the information on Cypriot crime rates bandied around the Internet is, unfortunately, still based on the 2004/2005 figures, dating back to a time when the Republic had only just become a fully-fledged member of the European Union.

And while Cyprus still statistically boasts one of the lowest per-capita percentages in Europe when it comes to being affected by criminal behaviour, it's fair to say that a great many things have changed during the years since most of our staff moved here.

Indeed, if certain local law enforcement officers are to be believed, the growing number of (mainly petty) crimes which has manifested in recent years, is largely due to the ever increasing number of foreign nationals being drawn to the island's shores.

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Here is one opinion from a CID Officer who wishes to remain anonymous

Not so long ago I was asked accompany one of our past clients to Paphos police station in order to help him file a report concerning a theft from his property. Not having been here long, he wanted a little backup when dealing with the local constabulary for the first time.

And what, you may well ask, did the items taken from this person's residence consist of? Was it his car? His stereo, DVD player and TV perhaps? Maybe the ruthless criminals broke into his home to steal jewellery and cash?

Not quite...

The missing items consisted of four garden gnomes and a three foot tall Sponge Bob cuddly toy*, which had been removed from his yard during the previous night.

No... don't laugh... It's not funny.

Well, maybe it is just a little bit funny, at least when you compare it with what goes on in most European countries on a daily basis. And that is exactly the point. While most European residents live with the constant threat of violent crime, home invasions, robberies, and burglaries, the denizens of Cyprus are confronted by a growing wave of exceedingly petty crime.

  Necklace and bracelet made by a goldsmith in Lefkara

But back to the police officer at Paphos police station...

With our client reviewing his statement, I sauntered to the canteen for a well-earned cup of Cyprus coffee. While sitting outside, basking in the late-summer sunshine, I got talking to one of the station's more senior CID officers, who imparted to me the following snippet of information with regards to crimes and crime rates in Cyprus, or at least those in the Paphos district:

"When I first started with Paphos CID many years ago, there were just three of us in the department, and we dealt with the whole of Paphos district. Now [September 2011], there are nineteen of us, and we deal with Paphos town alone. Pissouri and Polis have their own Criminal Investigation Departments. The problem is not from Cypriots; it is from foreigners who come here, and then can't find a job and run out of money. They have to survive somehow, so they start stealing things. You would not believe how many gas bottles get stolen in the Paphos area every week."

Chain up your gas bottles, folks...

A bottle of Propane gas  

I guess it makes perfect sense...

You come here from whatever European country, and you find that things don't work out the way you'd planned at all. So you sit here, stuck on the island, with rent to pay and no income whatsoever. All of a sudden, those twelve Euros deposit you can get from a gas bottle start to look very attractive; even more so if the gas bottle is still mostly full, and you can sell it for a higher price. Then, you start thinking about how much you can actually make during the course of the average night by simply harvesting gas bottles from outside peoples' properties.

Well... you have to get yourself and Sponge Bob back to Romania somehow, don't you*?

But while this may make for a funny story to tell your friends, it also serves to illustrate a point

Yes, the crime rate in Cyprus has increased substantially during recent years, but the sort of things you, as a resident, are likely to be confronted with, are really nothing when compared to most European countries. What's more, most of these thefts could easily be prevented, if only owners were a little more vigilant about their personal belongings. Let's face it for a second, most thefts that happen are exceedingly petty in the greater scheme of things; the majority of them are also carried out by opportunists. Therefore, the simple act of slinging a chain through the handle of your gas bottle, and around the nearest drain pipe or conduit, will foil these would-be criminals in their tracks.

Locking your car is also a good idea these days (I never used to lock mine between 2005 and 2008), as car crime has been on the increase. Don't get me wrong, there are still very few car thefts on the island each year, but an unlocked car will, once again, attract opportunists.

All in all it's about using a little bit of common sense. There's no need to have bars fitted to your windows, and it's still perfectly safe to go for a walk down the beach after midnight or walk home alone from the pub, as muggings are practically unheard of. The thing you have to be aware of is leaving your personal property unattended, such as when you're going for a swim down at the beach or leaving it in an unlocked car for instance.

So yes, crime rates in Cyprus are not only exceedingly low by European standards, but what does go on is also of a rather less intimidating nature on the whole.

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* Much like the infamous case of the traveling gnome in the UK a few years back, Sponge Bob has meanwhile started to send post cards to its former owner... from Romania. Whether or not, like his famous British compatriot, he will eventually resurface in his old front garden, is as yet uncertain. And yes, I have obtained full permission to recount this incident here, not only because it is a funny story, but because it serves to illustrate the level of crime one is normally confronted with in Cyprus, if one is confronted with it at all.

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Disclaimer. Please note that the information given on this website is displayed for guidance purposes only. It does not replace the need for professional advice, either legal or otherwise. E&OE

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