By Humphrey Carter
A car is stolen every six hours in Palma but police claim they have a grip on the situation.
Palma police chief Miquel Pericàs reported yesterday that, last year, an average of four vehicles were stolen every day in the municipality and that, in total, 1'500 vehicle thefts were reported.

However, while the capital's car theft rate may seem high, Pericàs said yesterday that the total number of vehicles stolen last year was 18 percent less than in 2003.

The police chief explained that the main reason for the reduction in car thefts is an increase in police traffic controls, adding that this year he is confident the rate will be reduced further with more police on the beat.

Pericàs said that most of the vehicle thefts in Palma are carried out using the simple method of forcing open the drivers' side door. He added that in the past, car thieves were using more advanced methods, such as tripping the locks by slipping objects down the side of the car windows, for example. The Palma police chief not only said that his force has managed to reduce the number of car thefts, but the police are enjoying increasing success in recovering stolen vehicles. However, he admitted that in most cases, the vehicle is found once it has been dumped and in some cases damaged and robbed of valuable items. The two main car theft black spots are the Paseo Maritimo and the railway sidings.

Coincidentally, Majorcan Socialist Party councillors are calling on City Hall to step up security around the Parque Estaciones and the new public transport station.

Residents living near the station and along the railway track are becoming increasingly concerned about crime in the area. The PSM have warned the mayor, Catalina Cirer, of a major “social conflict” brewing.

The main problem is that the scores of homeless who normally sleep in the park, have been forced into the neighbouring streets at night by construction work on the new transport station.

PSM spokesperson Perez Muñoz said yesterday that more police are needed on the streets, in particular after dark. “Residents and shopkeepers are becoming increasingly nervous about the situation,” he said. “The mayor should be doing her best to guarantee their security and safety.”

130 extra National Police on the beat

BALEARIC governor general Ramón Socías said yesterday that he intends to start easing the general public's safety and security fears.
The Balearic National Police force was yesterday boosted by the arrival of 130 new policemen and women.
94 are to be based in Palma, 22 in Ibiza, eight in Mahon, five in Ciudadela and five in Manacor taking the total size on the Balearic force to 1.260 and 96 percent of Socias' target.

Socias, accompanied by the National Police chief Eduardo Pérez-Extremera, said at yesterday's welcome meeting that the extra police will enable the force to re-organise shifts and increase night-time patrols.

In accordance with the Police 2000 plan, central government is committed to covering 100 percent of all National Police places in the Balearics and Madrid has nearly complied - the target is 1.300 National Police.

Socias said that he now has the force to respond to the public's growing sense of insecurity and also increase policing in the most conflictive areas such as Son Gotleu and Son Banya.

Over the past few years, Balearic security forces, the National and Local Police as well as the Guardia Civil, have had to try and fight the rise in crime with a decrease in human resources. But Socias maintains that the extra National police goes an important way to filling that gap while, at a local municipal level, local police forces have been expanded and extra members of the Guardia Civil have been deployed to the Balearics.

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