Files of 27 Ongoing Criminal Cases Disappear From Givatayim Police Station

While police have been criticized for the disappearance of individual case files, such a large breach is extremely rare. Police source: indictments will have to be retracted.

An archive photo of an Israel Police car.
David Bachar

The files of 27 ongoing criminal cases have disappeared from the Givatayim police station with no explanation. An officer has been appointed to investigate the matter and the Justice Ministry department that investigates the police has been called on and is waiting to learn whether the officer’s report turns up suspicion of criminal actions.

According to a senior police officer it is already clear that some indictments will now have to be retracted.

The files disappeared about a month ago when the station’s personnel and commander went on rest-and-relaxation leave to Eilat. Immediately on their return, the investigations officer noticed that 27 ongoing-case files were gone. The officer informed the station commander, Chief Superintendent Miri Peled, who ordered a search for the files and a probe into their disappearance.

The search turned up nothing at the station, and police at the district level were then called on, one of whose officers is heading the investigation.

There have been cases in the past were a single file has gone missing and the police are severely criticized. But the disappearance of so many files is an extremely rare occurrence.

A preliminary probe revealed that the files involve assaults, family violence, threats, clashes between neighbors and noise complaints. In addition to the complaint itself, the files all contained evidence and testimony that was to have been used by the prosecution after indictments were served.

In some cases the police obtain testimony from witnesses or victims of violent crime that is taken by investigators in police interrogation rooms. The police fear that the files, which they are obliged to keep confidential while the case is under investigation, may have fallen into the wrong hands and could find their way onto social media, embarrassing the victims.

A senior police officer said yesterday that the police will have to retract indictments already served even if they are harshly criticized by the courts.

The police are also bracing for criticism by the victims, who will soon be informed that the authorities cannot pursue prosecution of their case.

The district officer in charge of the investigation has already begun questioning the station commander about the way the files were held at the station. It already seems clear that the standing order to lock all files in a cabinet at the end of the work day was not followed, and someone outside the station saw the files on the desk and took them.

Neither the station’s investigations officer nor anyone else at the station can say with certainty that the files disappeared from the station, or that if they did, when this happened.

The possibility that an investigator took the files home, also against procedure, is being examined, along with the possibility that the files were later stolen from an officer’s home and the theft went unreported. Even the idea that a cleaning crew threw the files out has been raised.

Police spokeswoman Chief Superintendent Merav Lapidot said: “The Israel Police undertake timely processes of supervision and monitoring and as issues arise requiring examination, these are investigated in coordination with the authorized officials.”

However, in this case, the disappearance of the files was discovered by the station personnel themselves when they returned from vacation in Eilat.