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Europe

Study: Crime Down, But Europeans Still Feel Threatened

European citizens feel the crime rate has dropped in the last decade but about one person in three is still concerned about personal safety in the streets, according to a survey released Monday.

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Many Europeans don't feel safe outside

Fifteen percent of Europeans questioned said they had been the victim of a common crime -- including 10 categories of crime ranging from bicycle theft to burglary -- in 2004, compared to 19 percent in 2000 and 21 percent in 1995.

But the crime, safety and security survey, which studied people's perceptions about crime, found that about 30 percent of citizens in 18 EU countries were afraid of burglary and do not feel safe on the streets.

The poll, coordinated by Gallup Europe, showed that Britons considered they lived in a "high crime country," second only to Ireland, while Germany suffered more sex crimes.

According to the results, provided during an interview by 2,000 people in each country, Britain has the highest level of assaults and burglaries -- 5 percent and 3 percent of all crimes

respectively -- in the EU countries.

Sex crimes in Germany above EU average

Sexuelle Belästigung am Arbeitsplatz

Europeans have different notions of what constitutes a sex crime

Sexual crimes in Germany were 60 percent above the EU average, according to the poll, which the authors said had no correlation to crime statistics compiled by police in the countries concerned.

France had the highest number of "hate crimes" in the EU -- 5 percent compared to an 18-country average of 3 percent -- respondents there said.

The study revealed cultural differences about what crime means. People in Scandinavian countries, for example, have a wider definition of what constitutes a sexual crime and are more likely to go to the police than citizens in Mediterranean rim countries, it found.

Six dead in bloodbath in Germany

Mord in Sittensen bei Hamburg

Police cars outside the restaurant where the bodies were found

Meanwhile, six people were found shot dead in a Chinese restaurant in northern Germany in the early hours of Monday, but a two-year-old girl survived, police said. The victims were three men and three women, all believed to be of Asian origin.

They had been tied up and their bodies were found in different rooms of the Lin Yue restaurant in Sittensen, a town of 10,000 inhabitants near the northern port of Hamburg. The owners of the restaurant and staff members were among the dead.

Police spokesman Thomas Teuber said another member of the restaurant staff suffered serious gunshot wounds and was being treated in hospital. The bodies were found by a 47-year-old man who came to fetch his wife from the restaurant shortly after midnight. She was among the dead.

The motive for the killings was unclear, police said. There was no evidence that the restaurant had been the target of blackmail and there was no history of Chinese mafia activity in Lower Saxony, the state where it is situated. Organized crime linked to Chinese groups "has never been an issue in Lower Saxony", said a spokesman for the regional police. The state has asked federal investigators to work on the case.

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