As France entered a nationwide, strict lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of burglaries into the country's private residencies slumped – even in second homes which were left empty for months at a time.
In March, burglaries into primary and secondary residencies dropped by 44 percent compared to February, according to police numbers.
The trend continued well into spring. In Paris, one of the worst areas for burglaries, break-ins into primary residencies dropped by 85 percent between mid-March and mid-May.
Yvan Assioma, spokesperson of the police union Alliance in Paris, told the French daily 20 minutes that the numbers were “logically good.”
“The confinement brutally slowed down all delinquent activity, but not in a sustainable manner,” he said, pointing to the “exceptional” state of the lockdown as the main factor behind the drop.
With the lockdown gone and people moving around around freely again, the number of burglaries have begun to rise.
About 29 percent of all of France's burglaries happen between June and August, according to the French interior ministry. This makes the summer the busiest season for burglars in France.
While the rest of France snoozes into a sleepy holiday-mood and leave their homes to go on vacation, thieves take advantage of the increasing number of empty residencies to ramp up break-ins.
But there are ways for people leaving their holiday on holiday or for second home-owners in France based abroad can take to protect their house from burglars.
Before you leave
- Call the police. Through France's police holiday programme, Tranquillité Vacances (tranquil holidays), you can get local authorities to keep an eye on your home while you are away on holiday. Just remember to get in touch with them at least two days before you leave.
- Tell your neighbours you're leaving. If you can, ask your neighbours to keep an eye on your place and call you if they suspect someone has entered who should not be there.
- Don't brag on social media. This may sound silly, but security workers outline this point as key, as burglars increasingly use social media platforms to check if people are really away on holiday.
- Take pics. If you have things of high value in your home, take a picture before you leave in case you need them for your police statement or insurance company later.
- Get a video-surveillance sticker, even if you don't have a camera. It's got a preventative effect that should not be overlooked.
If you get unlucky
- Call the police as soon as you find out about the break-in. The number is 17 or 112 (the European number).
- Make a list over missing objects.
- Contact your insurance company.
- Do not move things around, especially not signs of break-in. This could tamper with police evidence.
- File a formal complaint within 48 hours.
A trend on the rise
Overall, the number of burglaries into private homes in France has increased over the past decade. From 2005 and 2017, the number of break-ins into private homes rose by 37 percent.
In 2018, France reported nearly 490,000 primary residency burglaries, according to the interior ministry.
Some of these reported several break-ins over the course of the same year.
After summer, autumn is the second busiest season for burglaries in France. About 26 percent of all burglaries happen between September and November, according to the interior ministry.
In the winter (December-February), the tally drops down to 24 and then to 22 in the spring (March-May).
Vocab (if you're burgled):
Déposer plainte – file a police statement
Cambriolage – burglary
Tentative de cambriolage – attempted burglary
Résidence primaire/secondare – first/second home
Objets de valeur – items of valuable
Points de l'effraction – break-in points (where the burglars came in)