Crime dropped during 2008 compared to the previous year, according to the annual report presented yesterday by Police Commissioner David Cohen. A six percent drop in criminal incidents was reported last year, despite a rise in drug-related crime among youth.

Car theft dropped dramatically - by 24 percent compared to 2006 - but there was a 38 percent increase in the number of arrests of drug smugglers and distributors.

The police were also keen yesterday to highlight their success in combating organized crime. According to the police, nine heads of criminal organizations in Israel are currently under arrest, either following trial or in detention until completion of legal proceedings against them.

According to the police report, 419,837 incidents were reported during 2008. There was a 13 percent drop in house burglaries compared with 2007 (and a 20 percent drop since 2006), 16 percent fewer burglaries of businesses, and a 13 percent drop in the number of vehicles broken into. There was also a nine percent drop in the number of robberies: 2,993 compared to 3,292 in 2007.

Police statistics show that the car most likely to be stolen is a Subaru Leone (1,554 during 2008), San Yang scooters (1,239 stolen) and Mitsubishi Lancer sedans (912 last year).

One of the most troubling figures in the report is the rise in the number of criminal incidents involving minors. During the past year police opened criminal records for 33,326 minors, a rise of five percent compared to 2007. A 20 percent rise in drug-related crimes involving minors has also been registered, as well as an increase in violent incidents in schools: 3,582 compared to 3,229 in 2007. One police source described 2008 as the "year of drugs" in light of the increased number of various drug "busts."

The 38 percent increase in drug-related cases included 4,532 cases of dealing and importing compared to 3,278 in 2007; and the interception of 303 kilos of heroin and 135 kilos of cocaine, compared to 136 and 36 kilos respectively in 2007.