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True Crime at the Vatican

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 17, 2011

Among all the world's countries, which one has the highest reported rate of crime? Vatican City.

It makes for an interesting offbeat news story, but if you hadn't thought of the Vatican as a dangerous place, don't start worrying too much just yet.

The statistics are skewed since there are only 27 legal residents of Vatican City, but an estimated 18 million people visit each year. If just one visitor out of every 666,666 (hmm; that's an interesting number) committed a petty crime, that would yield a rate of one reported crime per resident, which would be enough to send your local police chief into a tailspin.

Last year Vatican officials reported 1,300 misdemeanors. The vast majority were petty thefts. To be more precise, the vast majority were committed by pickpockets who escape from Vatican City to the surrounding territory of Rome before their crimes are detected. Prosecutors filed charges in just 171 cases.

So if you were considering a pilgrimage to Rome, don't let the crime rate deter you. But watch your wallet.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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