Monday, July 28, 2008


The rate of suicides and murders committed by family members in Italy increases by 20% when the summer heat kicks in, a renowned Italian criminologist recently reported in an Italian news outlet. Referring to the summer as a ''terrible'' season for psychiatry wards, Francesco Bruno from Rome's La Sapienza University said there was a direct correlation between soaring temperatures and fraying tempers.
''In 2007 we registered a little fewer than 600 murders, with an average of two a day. But if we look at the hottest - and therefore most critical - periods, the average soars to between 2.2 and 2.3 murders a day,'' Bruno said.
The criminologist explained that dehydration is a major element in people losing control of their aggressive impulses.
''The cerebral cortex needs a lot of water to function well. When the temperature soars, it can be a struggle to control both our destructive and auto-destructive impulses, which arrive from the deepest parts of the brain, resulting in the tragedies we read in the newspapers''.
People suffering from schizophrenia are especially at risk from losing control in hot weather, but Bruno added that ''all the psychiatric illnesses feel the heat: in summer we register an increase in the cases of depression too, especially among women''.
But the criminologist said the heat alone can't be blamed for the increase in violent crime within the family. ''We have to remember that loneliness plays a fundamental role during the summer months too: it can make problems worse and increase the desperation of people already at risk,'' he added.

Investigating art-crime is certainly not at the top of most detective’s hit list.
Certainly the investigation of a theft of art or a cultural artifact is a demanding one to be presented to any investigator.
Art and cultural property crime - which includes theft, fraud, looting, and trafficking across state and international lines -- is a looming criminal enterprise with estimated losses running as high as $6 billion annually.
To recover these precious pieces--and to bring these criminals to justice--the FBI uses a dedicated Art Crime Team of 13 Special Agents to investigate, supported by three Special Trial Attorneys for prosecutions...and it mans the National Stolen Art File, a computerized index of reported stolen art and cultural properties for the use of law enforcement agencies across the world.
The FBI established a rapid deployment Art Crime Team in 2004.
The team is composed of 13 Special Agents, each responsible for addressing art and cultural property crime cases in an assigned geographic region.
The Art Crime Team is coordinated through the FBI's Art Theft Program, located at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Art Crime Team agents receive specialized training in art and cultural property investigations and assist in art related investigations worldwide in cooperation with foreign law enforcement officials and FBI Legal Attaché offices.
Since its inception, the Art Crime Team has recovered over 850 items of cultural property with a value exceeding $134 million.
The National Stolen Art File (NSAF) is a computerized index of stolen art and cultural property as reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and the world. The NSAF consists of images and physical descriptions of stolen and recovered objects, in addition to investigative case information. The primary goal of the NSAF is to serve as a tool to assist investigators in art and cultural artifact theft cases and to function as an analytical database providing law enforcement officials with information concerning art theft.
All requests for searches of the National Stolen Art File must be made through a law enforcement agency in support of a criminal investigation. Individuals or organizations in the United States wanting to access the NSAF should contact their local FBI office.
Art crime represents the third highest grossing criminal enterprise worldwide, behind only drugs and arms trafficking. It brings in $2-6 billion per year, most of which goes to fund international organized crime syndicates.
Most art crime since the 1960s is perpetrated either by, or on behalf of, international organized crime syndicates. They either use stolen art for resale, or to barter on a closed black market for an equivalent value of goods or services. Individually instigated art crimes are rare, and art crimes perpetrated for private collectors are rarest of all.
One of the greatest problems is that neither the general public, nor government officials, realize the severity of art crime. Art crime funds all organized crime enterprises, including terrorism.
And yet it is often dismissed as a victimless crime, because it is not understood.
Italy has by far the most art crime, with approximately 20,000 art thefts reported each year. Russia has the second most, with approximately 2000 art thefts reported per year.Italy is the only country whose government takes art crime as seriously as it should. Italy’s Carabinieri are by far the most successful art squad worldwide, employing over 300 agents full time. Other countries have had great success with their art squads, despite lack of governmental support, while many countries do not have a single officer dedicated to art crime, the third largest criminal enterprise worldwide.