YOUTHS stealing motorbikes have fuelled a near quarter rise in motor vehicle thefts across the Capital, latest statistics reveal.
Figures out today show crime from April to December last year was down overall on the previous year with a seven per cent drop.
Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald welcomed fewer robberies, drug offences, sex crimes and housebreaking, in particular.
But he condemned a “entirely unacceptable” rise in attacks on his officers and warned those responsible would be brought to justice.
“My officers are working flat out, 24/7, 365 days a year to keep the people of Edinburgh safe,” said Chief Supt MacDonald.
The figures show more than a seven per cent drop in serious assaults - meaning 22 fewer victims over the nine months.
Chief Supt MacDonald said nearly half of these were in an area including the city centre - with night time drinking contributing.
“That’s why we’re working very hard with policing to deter and tackle it every Friday and Saturday night.”
He also praised a 1.4 per cent drop in robberies - meaning 21 fewer victims.
But there were 37 more attacks on emergency workers, mostly police - up ten per cent - to 395 - more than one every day.
“That level of violence shown to my officers is entirely unacceptable,” said Chief Supt MacDonald.
While sex crimes were down by 18 per cent - 163 fewer victims - detection rates also plummeted to just over half for rapes.
“Victims in this area can be reluctant to come forward,” said Chief Supt MacDonald. “Given the under-reporting nature of serious crimes of a sexual nature, I don’t think this reduction is wholly indicative of a long-term trend which is still on the rise.”
Chief Supt Macdonald said historical sex crimes - accounting for a third of those reported - can be tougher to solve.
Detection rates generally should be improved by ongoing work with the Crown to “fast-track“ suspects, he added.
Housebreaking of homes saw a dramatic drop by 16.7 per cent - or 243 fewer victims - with just over half, 55.7 per cent, resulting in items stolen.
“This is evidence that our crime prevention message is getting across,” said Chief Supt MacDonald.
“Simple and effective measures the public can take - locks, external lighting on sensors or maybe just cutting back foliage.”
Although there was a 11 per cent drop in car crime overall - there was a 22.4 percent increase in thefts, or attempted thefts, of motor vehicles to 683 - more than two a day.
Chief Supt MacDonald said camera-carrying officers and helicopter were being deployed in Operation Soteria to crackdown on motorbike thefts.
Typically, bikes are stolen in the north of the city before being used to joyride around northern neighbourhoods.
“We’re highlighting the dangers that often these young people are taking,” said Chief Supt MacDonald, quoting the case of a 14-year-old killed in Silverknowes last June.
“We’ve started asking individuals to report where a young person is placing themselves in danger by undertaking this reckless behaviour - it could save their lives.”