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CRIME

Two burglaries every hour in Austria

At a press conference on Friday, the Austrian Road Safety Board (KVB) and the Austrian Insurance Association (VVÖ) explained that many Austrians underestimate the risks of burglary, and outlined some simple measures to be taken to avoid getting ripped off.

Two burglaries every hour in Austria
Photo: APA (epa)

There are at least two burglaries every hour in Austria.  From these, around half of opportunistic offenders could be deferred by simple preventive measures.

A survey conducted by the KFV shows that only 41 percent of Austrians take basic safety measures, despite burglaries having increased by 76 percent in the past few years.

Almost half of the 500 respondents claimed that there would be nothing of value lost if they were burglarized anyway, showing an uncomfortable degree of apathy on the question.

Despite this, the average loss from a burglary in Austria was around €2,200.  60 percent of Austrians gloomily explain that they can't protect themselves anyway.  

The Vice President of the Insurance Association Hartwig Löger outlined that in many cases, even basic steps are effective at deterring offenders, including locking doors and closing windows when leaving the house.

Equally effective as a deterrent are attentive neighbours, and the regular trimming of hedges, to ensure that the house is clearly visible from the street.  

It's generally known that criminals will often quickly evaluate the obstacles of a series of possible targets in a short time.  The more barriers to entry that exist, the smaller the chance of a break-in, according to Löger.  Around one third of intrusion attempts are abandoned at the outset, he said.

In 2013, there were 16,548 burglaries recorded by police.  These numbers rise in winter months, as the twilight makes it for burglars to avoid detection.  

The most effective deterrent is a functioning alarm system, said Löger, but only if it is turned on and all entry points are sealed.

Causes for the increase of domestic burglary

Without access to the dark figures and a very low clear-up rate of 7% it is hard to find convincing arguments for the increasing crime rates in this field.

Police experts refer to deep social and political changes in some post-soviet countries (Moldova, Georgia) causing a new wave of criminal activities of foreign offenders in Austria.

Austria in turn became a target for offenders operating in large geographical areas. The increase of mobility in south-eastern neighbouring countries also led to an increase of domestic burglary in Austria.

On the level of subjects psychologists argued that the production of needs for self-realisation and increasing economic pressure foster illegal activities.

Insurance experts and police prevention officers complained about low security standards in Austria, especially in Viennese households, which make domestic burglary more attractive for all kinds of offenders.

There are some indicators (value of stolen goods and overall damage per case) that suggest an increasing level of professionalization among burglars.

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CRIME

Austria probes claim spyware targeted law firms and banks

Austria said Friday that it was investigating a report that an Austrian company developed spyware targeting law firms, banks and consultancies in at least three countries.

Austria probes claim spyware targeted law firms and banks

Microsoft’s security team earlier this week said it found that a malware called Subzero — developed by Vienna-based company DSIRF — was deployed in 2021 and 2022.

“Observed victims to date include law firms, banks and strategic consultancies in countries such as Austria, the United Kingdom and Panama,” it wrote in a blog entry on Wednesday.

Austria’s interior ministry said it had not received reports of any incidents.

READ ALSO: Austria wary of cyber attacks after personal data of foreign residents leaked online

“Of course, (intelligence agency) DSN checks the allegations. So far, there is no proof of the use of spy software from the company mentioned,” it said in a statement.

Austria’s Kurier newspaper cited DSIRF as saying that Subzero had not been misused and “was developed exclusively for use by authorities in EU states” and was not commercially available.

DSIRF did not immediately return a request for comment from AFP.

Austria’s interior ministry said it knew of the company but “has not had any business relationships” with it.

Last year several media outlets reported that governments around the world, including in the EU, had used Pegasus spyware made by Israel’s NSO Group to spy on opponents.

Budapest and Warsaw responded that the use of Pegasus was for legitimate national security reasons.

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