Pandemic deters thieves, fuels domestic violence, German police say

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer attends a news conference about crime statistics in Berlin, Germany, April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse/Pool

BERLIN (Reuters) - The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a rise in domestic violence, online fraud and child pornography last year in Germany, although there were fewer break-ins and car thefts as lockdowns kept people at home, police data showed on Thursday.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said an overall trend of falling crimes continued last year as 5.3 million offences were reported, one million fewer than in 2017.

"The contact and movement restrictions have had a grave impact on the lives of citizens in Germany," Seehofer told a news conference with police chiefs. "During the lockdowns, life has been taking place largely in the private sphere and this has affected the nature of crime."

Car theft incidents were down by about 16%, break-ins by 14% and pickpocketing fell by 11%.

This compared with an 11.5% increase in online fraud as criminals tried to cash in on a surge in internet shopping as most retailers shut their doors.

Seehofer said there was a rise in reported domestic violence mainly against women, but did not give any figures as the data was incomplete. He said the reported incidents were most likely only a fraction of the real numbers.

Child pornography crimes rose by more than 54% compared to 2019. The increase was partly the result of Germany receiving more tip-offs on the production, distribution and possession of child pornography from the U.S.-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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