French police holiday service in demand as break-ins soar

Did you know that you can ask your local police service in France to keep watch over your house when you go on holiday? The free service aims to reduce break-ins, which have soared by 114% since deconfinement.

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The service, which is available during the summer holiday months every year, is dubbed “opération tranquillité vacances” (operation holiday in peace).

If you are going on holiday and plan to leave your home (or houseboat) unattended, you can ask your local police or gendarmerie to keep watch over the property. They will do regular patrols, during the day and night, and check if anything appears amiss.

The service is particularly suitable right now, as figures from the interior ministry show that the number of break-ins had more than doubled - up 114% - in May 2020, compared to figures from March to May, due to confinement ending and people beginning to leave their homes again.

This level is expected to rise further as the holiday season continues. Regular figures from security and justice agency l’Observatoire de la Délinquance et Réponses Pénales (ONDRP) show that July and August are particularly high-risk months for burglaries.

According to a 2019 study of the Grand Paris area by the ONDRP, the average material loss of a burglary is €6,400.

How to sign up

To sign up for the free police service, you need to go to your local police or gendarmerie station, with the correct request form (see links to download below), your ID, and proof of address (such as a utilities bill).

In Paris, and in Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne, you can make the request via the online portal

The request must be made - whether online or in person - at least five days before you go on holiday if you live in the Paris area, and within 48 hours everywhere else.

There are also some things you can do to make your house less attractive to burglars while you are away.

They include:

Asking someone to take in your post - or requesting that La Poste delay delivery for a week - to avoid the letterbox from filling up; a tell-tale sign that the house may not be occupied
Closing all the windows and shutters properly
Avoiding posting about your exact holiday plans, departure dates etc on social media
Checking with your neighbours if they have been the victims of burglary recently - as police say that if one property has been burgled, others nearby are likely at higher risk in the short-term

The forms you need to print and fill in for the opération tranquillité vacances are:

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