French Youths Torch 1,193 Parked Cars in New Year’s Eve ‘Tradition’

Picture taken late 04 November 2005 shows a number of car wrecks after the vehicles were set afire by gang of youths outside apartment blocks in Rennes, Western France. (Photo: AFP)

(TheBlaze/AP) — A New Year’s Eve tradition for some in France of torching empty, parked cars has continued into 2013.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday that 1,193 vehicles were burned overnight around the country, where the stunt began in the 1990s.

“In France’s rundown suburbs, it has become as much of a New Year tradition as champagne and fireworks in more affluent neighbourhoods,” the Agence France-Presse writes.

There was no way to compare this figure to recent ones, because the conservative government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy stopped making the numbers public while he was in office. But the rate of burned cars was apparently steady– on Dec. 31, 2009, 1,147 vehicles were burned.

For some, the decision of France’s current Socialist government to resume making public figures of New Year’s Eve’s torched cars is unwise.

Bruno Beschizza, a security chief for Sarkozy’s UMP party, said on iTele TV that publishing the numbers motivates youths to commit such crimes.

But Interior Minister Manuel Valls defended the change.

“Because a problem is hidden, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” he remarked.

There were apparently 65,000 police and other emergency workers patrolling the streets on New Year’s Eve, but the criminals still managed to destroy over a thousand vehicles.