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Phoenix police tackle kidnappings

Feb. 15, 2009 at 11:01 AM

PHOENIX, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Police in Phoenix, Ariz., say they are tackling the almost-daily occurrence of home invasions and kidnappings in the Arizona capital.

Officials said the high number of home invasions and kidnappings has earned the city the title of "kidnap-for-ransom capital" of the United States, The Arizona Republic reported Sunday.

In 2008, there were 369 reported kidnappings and 337 home invasions, which marked a 5 percent increase compared to the year before.

Phoenix police developed a task force in September to reduce the number of incidents.

Police Lt. Lauri Burgett, the lead investigator assigned to the Phoenix-led home invasion and kidnapping task force, said many of the extortion cases are linked to illegal drug trade.

"It's about profit," Burgett said. "It's been a secret society in a lot of ways because so much of it goes unreported."

She said since September, the task force has dismantled more than 20 extortion cells, the newspaper reported.

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