Homejackings, a growing phenomenon that not only affects celebrities

Beyond the media cases that affected Bruno Guillon, Jean-François Piège or PSG players, robberies in the presence of their occupants increased by 8% in 2023.

“I wouldn’t wish this terrible experience on anyone, not even my worst enemy.” Singer Vitaa spoke your instagram account, a few hours after being the victim of a robbery at his home in Rueil-Malmaison (Hauts-de-Seine), on Wednesday, December 20. The criminals entered his house at dawn, with their faces hidden, armed with baseball bats and iron bars. They stole luxury handbags and jewelry before fleeing, according to a source close to the investigation. “My family and I had one of the most difficult and traumatic nights of our lives.” the singer continues in her publication.

Many personalities have been the target of attacks: the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeepers Gianluigi Donnarumma and Alexandre Letellier, the presenter Bruno Guillon, the presenter Anne-Sophie Lapix or even the chef Jean-François Piège… But they are nothing more than media victims of a much larger phenomenon. “The targets are above all the gentlemen and ladies, many artisans, businessmen: everyone who supposedly has money”observes Guillaume Maniglier, deputy director of the Central Office for Combating Organized Crime (OCLCO).

“They pretend to be a delivery man, a neighbor, a worker…”

Authorities have recorded 515 robberies and attempted robberies in 2023, up from 475 in 2022, an increase of just over 8%, according to figures provided by OCLCO. However, a decline has already been observed for several consecutive years. Thus, in 2019 there were 585 incidents of this type. There’s a “magnifying glass effect”emphasizes Loubna Atta, spokesperson for the police headquarters, because “Several celebrities were affected, prompting heavy media coverage of the phenomenon.”

The scenario is usually the same: masked men enter their target’s home, most of the time without breaking in. “They pretend to be a delivery man, a neighbor, a worker…”, describes Loubna Atta. The latter reminds that the English term “home-jacking” (which literally means “home hacking”), formed according to the model of “car-jacking” (for automobiles), has no legal existence: it covers all thefts committed in accommodations in the presence of the occupants.

Sometimes they attack homes in several neighborhoods, but in general the perpetrators “they operate in smaller areas, where they can be extremely active, in serial mode”, details Guillaume Maniglier. They increasingly use social networks to locate their victims. “It’s pretty stupid, but a selfie outside your house is enough to give your address.”, says David Sudan, a lawyer specialized in this type of case. Without forgetting the photographs of the interior of the homes, which provide valuable information.

“They say they will have easier access to the safe”

However, there are still many more classic places, “going to beautiful neighborhoods to try to detect a more isolated house, with the appearance of opulence”, explains Guillaume Maniglier. There are also many exchanges of “plans” between criminals: “You have interesting information and you give it to another team”. Not to mention the delivery people, “who are easily bribed and who have a whole series of addresses in stock”, adds lawyer David Sudan.

His colleague Mary Krief, who represents several victims, claims that some of them were attacked because they were Jewish. “Two of my clients were identified by the presence of a mezuzah on their door. (a scroll that the Jewish community places to protect their homes)she says.

“Unfortunately, for some, Judaism is synonymous with wealth.”

Maria Krief, lawyer

in franceinfo

The lawyer has also observed for several years a change in the way attackers act. If before they preferred to resort to classic robberies, now, in the absence of the occupants, they ensure that they are present. “They tell themselves they will have easier access to the safe and terrorize their victims into handing over the codes.”

There are more and more young repeat offenders

Two types of profiles emerge. On the one hand, there are very well prepared teams, “equipped with weapons of war”. they carry out “a great job” upstream and have logistics that allow them “project abroad”, says Guillaume Maniglier. At the end of January, several sponsors in Switzerland, based in the Lyon region, were arrested following a “great year of research”, says the deputy director of the central office against organized crime. They addressed managers of Swiss watch companies. “After having kidnapped them, they went to their businesses to recover precious metals, gold, cash…” These experienced, middle-aged authors “30 to 40 years”, “may be violent on purpose, to make the victim or his family talk”according to the policeman.

However, the majority of the teams are made up of young repeat offenders. “The majority are between 16 and 25 years old”, points out Loubna Atta, whose statistics refer to Paris and its urban agglomeration. Researchers even observe a rejuvenation among arrested perpetrators. “We caught a 14-year-old boy and most of them are under 20”, slips a high-ranking source within the judicial police, which investigates the most serious and complex events. “They are known for common law crimes: contempt, rebellion, lack of permission or theft of phones at train stations.”

“Some have a history of narcotics and aspire to be recognized in the world of banditry by committing home robberies.”

A judicial police

in franceinfo

Salomé Cohen, a lawyer at the Paris Bar Association, who defends several defendants involved in these types of cases, also points out that many of them are abandoning drug trafficking, a “business in which you have to have a certain form of experimentation” Not to mention that the danger in this environment has increased: the number of homicides or attempted homicides increased by 57% between 2022 and 2023. Enough to chill those who were hoping to make a place for themselves. “Many have the feeling that home burglary is available to everyone, especially since you don’t even need weapons to start.” analyzes the lawyer.

“A team of broken arms”

The authors also operate with teams. “very disparate, like hammers opelectric impulse gunssays David Sudan, who also represents the defendants involved in this type of theft. There “democratization” Home burglaries paved the way for “Very amateur teams, which sometimes take very few precautions and are stopped much more easily”points out.

On the night of January 1 to 2, four other men, aged between 19 and 23, were arrested during a Attempted robbery in Nikos Aliagas in Fontenay-sous-Bois (Valle-de-Marne). His trial took place at the Créteil criminal court on January 30. “We really were facing a team with broken arms”coward the lawyer of one of the accused, who prefers to remain anonymous. “They came from roughly the same corner of the Yvelines, but not all of them knew each other. They were recruited the day before, on Telegram. None of them knew where they were going, but they were promised good loot.”he adds.

The establishment’s alarm system quickly put the team to flight. A BAC patrol that was in the area chased them through several streets, before the fugitives ended up crashing into a median and then into a tree, ending the chase.

A lack of experience that can lead to great violence.

Amateurism is also evident in the Bruno Guillon affair. The Fun Radio presenter and his family were victims of a robbery, on the night of September 26 to 27, at his home in Tessancourt-sur-Aubette (Yvelines). “Of the three perpetrators, two were wearing their own socks as gloves.” says a police officer who worked on this case. According to him, “There was very little notice, they should have had the instructions an hour before”.

The host was threatened with a gun, while his wife was tied and gagged at hammerpoint. The robbers also went to his 14-year-old son’s bedroom, where they tied him up with a serflex and a zip tie. In such cases, the attackers’ lack of experience often gives way to violent outbursts.

“As the attackers do not have much confidence, at the slightest resistance they panic and do not hesitate to hit the victims.”

A police source

in franceinfo

The police cites another case, that of two octogenarians kidnapped at the beginning of December in Viroflay (Yvelines), who escaped “alive but very damaged.” “They fought, so they were hit in the face. We are talking about older people, 1.60 meters tall.” Their screams allowed the perpetrators to escape, who were quickly arrested and are currently in preventive detention. “They will act firmly, without a doubt” the policeman predicted.

Victims “scarred for life”

According to the various actors interviewed by franceinfo, the judicial system is generally harsh on aggressors. There are many that appear, due to the “very high rate of clarification of home burglaries,” welcomes Guillaume Maniglier. “There are often many clues to exploit, cross-checks to make, videos to exploit, which regularly leads us to be able to interrogate all or part of the commandos.”

For the failed robbery attempt on Nikos Aliagas, the defendants were sentenced to terms of up to 18 months. One of the defendants, who had two citations on his record for refusing to comply, received two years in prison, including one year of suspended probation, and one year of electronic bracelet.

Salomé Cohen has defended several criminals who spent their first stay in prison while they were still minors. “They leave, they start again, they leave again and end up receiving three or four years in prison at 20, 21 years old. The sentences are harsh, because there are victims, and that is often taken into account”assures the lawyer.

These last ones are “marked for life”said Marie Krief, who defended a tied mother in the middle of the afternoon in the presence of her three little daughters. “The children screamed so loudly that they scared away the perpetrators”, says the lawyer. Since then, his client bought baseball bats and absolutely wants to move. ““She didn’t come to the hearing, she can’t stand the idea of ​​seeing her attackers again.”

Speaking about the future, Guillaume Maniglier wants to be reassuring: “In recent months, a large number of teams have been arrested, either within the framework of investigations that lasted several months, or in flagrante delicto. Several dozen criminals have been arrested throughout France, which must have had an impact in these networks”. The coming months should allow us to know if the phenomenon has been contained or if it is “in an ascending way, which continues to be emulated”.

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