Crime in the capital city is on the rise, with pickpockets contributing to a surge in reports, official figures show.

Figures tabled in Parliament by Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela show that the number of crimes reported to the Valletta police station increased by 44 per cent between 2014 and last year.

The biggest contributor is pickpocketing, with the number of people reporting it having jumped from around 100 in 2014 to some 320 last year.

Nine reported muggings were also investigated, while more than 20 snatch-and-grab cases were brought to the police’s attention.

Valletta has experienced a surge in commercial activity in recent years as it gears up to take on the status of European Capital of Culture next year.

READ: Is Valletta becoming the 'new Paceville'?

As new bars, restaurants and entertainment establishments continue to sprout up across the city, and economic activity in Valletta continues to rise, so too does criminality.

Last year, this newspaper reported residents’ concerns that increased economic activity in Valletta was turning the once largely residential city into “another unsafe Paceville”.

The biggest contributor is pickpocketing

A report by criminologist Saviour Formosa last year revealed that while crime capital St Julian’s, where the crime rate is five times the national average, still had the largest number of reported crimes, Valletta, Floriana and Sliema were close behind.

According to the police figures, the number of attempted offences reported to the Valletta station over the past three years remained fairly static – at approximately 20 cases annually.

Reports of damage to private property went up from just over 100 to some 160 last year.

Domestic violence increased marginally, from 26 cases to 32. Two stalkers were investigated by the Valletta police.

The number of sexual offenders reported to the police doubled – the total number reported last year was six. Police received one report of indecent exposure, another two which were classified as violent and three reports of rape. More than 30 people said they suffered harassment last year.

Interestingly, the reports of arson increased, from just one report in both 2014 and 2015 to eight last year.

A breakdown of the reported thefts in Valletta’s bars and restaurants shows that customers were 10 times more likely to rob than staff. In fact, more than 60 catering establishments have reported thefts by customers since 2014, compared to six by staff.

Some thieves were more ostentatious with their prizes, with 20 cars reported stolen over the past three years.

Meanwhile, around 140 cars were broken into. Around 30 windscreen wipers and other external parts were also stolen.

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