Official: Egypt’s police intensify efforts, bring down crime rate

Police campaigns over the past two weeks have intensified and led to a major decrease in crime rates that had risen to worrying levels in recent months, said Assistant Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal al-Deen on Saturday.

Gamal al-Deen told Al-Masry Al-Youm that within two weeks police apprehended 110 gangs and retrieved 565 stolen cars, arresting 410 gang members who had carried out 315 thefts.

He added that security and inspection campaigns between 16 and 29 February led to the seizure of 696 firearms, 75,161 bullets and 1,768 bladed weapons.

He also said the crackdown led to the discovery of seven workshops where weapons were being manufactured, and the arrest of 61 escaped prisoners and 332 suspects. 

The security clampdown also helped reveal the details of 89 incidents, including 39 murders, 41 muggings, four sexual assaults, four abductions and one case of rape, Gamal al-Deen said.

In another report, police on Saturday said that five people attempted to rob the Sadat Metro station using bladed weapons. Metro staff arrested the assailants and handed them over to police. Four accomplices smashed the station's entrance station in an attempt to create chaos and get the suspects out. With the help of the police citizens confronted them and reports were filed.

The blackmarket and food safety

On Saturday, police also said they had recently seized 2,833 butane cylinders and 63,367 liters of gasoline for sale on the blackmarket.

Police also registered 235 claims against supply commodity sellers and 102 claims against vegetable and fruit vendors whose goods did not conform to standard specifications. Sixty-six claims were also registered against bakeries for violating standards and the law, police said.

In the fight against smuggling subsidized flour, 5,100 tons were seized in four raids, while 6,095 tons of sugar, oil and rice for illegal distribution were seized and 10,500 tons of sugar packages, the weight of which had been modified, were seized.

In Alexandria, an owner of an unlicensed dairy factory was arrested, and 160 kg of unlabeled cheese was confiscated, as well as 350 packs of yogurt and 125 kg of cream that did not conform to health standards.

A seller of 360 kg of imported fish unfit for human consumption, a driver of a truck loaded with 937 liters of diesel to sell on the blackmarket, and a cigarette seller with 540 packs of cigarettes of unknown origins were reportedly arrested.

Claims were filed against five sellers who did not respect official prices, and four who did not put prices on their goods, said the poilce.

Crime rise

In recent months, there have been frequent reports of crimes of muggings and a string of bank robberies.

A leading Islamist candidate for the Egyptian presidency was attacked in late February by armed men and was briefly held in an intensive care suffering from concussion. The attackers were later arrested by police.

During the 18-day uprising that led to Hosni Mubarak's ouster last year, more than 23,000 prisoners were either let out or broke out of prison during a collapse of the police force. Police say that most of the crimes are being committed by some 5,000 escapees who have yet to be caught.

The police largely vanished from the streets during the uprising and though many have since returned, some parts of the city — in particular upscale districts — are much more dangerous than they were under Mubarak's authoritarian rule.

Many blame the Interior Ministry, which controls the police. For decades under the Mubarak regime, the ministry was associated with torture and corruption. But the security lapse is also seen as part of the failure by the ruling military council to steer the country through what was supposed to be a transition to democracy.

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