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6 May, 2009 05:58

Muscovites resist the crisis crime wave

Moscow Police say they've seen a 10% increase in crime since the beginning of the year, attributing it to the economic crisis that is driving people to steal as a way to survive.

Over the last few months, one of Moscow's largest security agencies that operates in all kinds of public places such as supermarkets, restaurants, and malls has seen a 30% increase in emergency calls, making the job of a security guard in Moscow even harder.

“Last year people were mainly stealing things like magazines and alcohol, but now it's often simply food – canned goods, sausages. More and more often you hear the thieves say they just had nothing to eat,” says supermarket security guard Aleksandr Voloshin.

Moscow police say they anticipated the rise of crime in the city as prices go up, and people continue to suffer from the economic meltdown.

“It is mostly theft, and mostly committed by people who came to the city from elsewhere to make a living,” says Zhanna Ozhimina from the Moscow police department.

“Many of them lost their low-paying jobs, and have no money to get back home, and the only thing left for them is to take to the streets and steal.”

Painter and professor Sergey Zagraevsky, who was robbed late at night at one of the boulevards in the center of Moscow not long ago, insists his robbers demanded money from him, speaking Russian with a strong accent.

“They were obviously just guest workers, probably fired from their construction jobs. I didn't even call the police.”

As theft is on the rise in Moscow, police are calling on people to be more cautious with their belongings, and to not take chances, saying their safety is primarily in their own hands.