Yet even then, cars were not burned in big cities like Paris, and that remained the case this New Year's Eve. Minister Valls said the Paris suburban region of Seine-Saint-Denis, where the 2005 unrest started, led the nation for torched cars, followed by two eastern regions around Strasbourg.
For some, the decision to tell the public how many cars have been burned on New Year's Eve is a mistake.
Bruno Beschizza, the national secretary for security matters in Sarkozy's UMP party, said on iTele TV that publishing the numbers motivates youths to commit such crimes. "We know that neighborhoods compete," he said. Gang rivalries center on who can torch the most cars, with claims made on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, he said.