Crime Wave at the Vatican?

The Vatican has the highest crime rate in the world, according to a new report. But the statistics largely reflect the fact that tourists at St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican museums are easy targets for pickpockets.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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So I was working the nightshift out at St. Peter's Basilica. There's a crime wave in Vatican City. The attorney general of that small city-state run by the pope released crime statistics this week. In 2006, there were 341 civil and 486 criminal cases among a population of 492 people. That's 1.5 cases per person, well above the crime rate in Rio, New Orleans, or even the Chicago city council.

Of course, most of the perps are pickpockets or purse-snatchers who blend in among the 18 million annual visitors to the pope's home. And few arrests are made because they can flee across the border into Italy with just a few quick steps. But it's worth noting that six million people surged into Vatican City as Pope John Paul was dying in 2005, and not a single pickpocket even was reported.

Coming up, crime wasn't much of a problem among the eight people cooped up in Biosphere II, but there were other issues. Stay tuned.

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