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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 3 Mar 2006

Home Affairs Minister tackles MPs' questions on crime situation


Response given by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Wong Kan Seng at the Committee of Supply Debate on the Ministry of Home Affairs - Crime Situation, 02 March 2006
Crime Situation
Indeed, overall crime increased by 19.9 per cent, from 30,620 cases in 2004 to 36,700 cases in 2005. And I do feel that this increase is alarming.
However, if we examine the types of crime which have increased, we will note that many of these need not have happened, had the victims been more careful and vigilant.
Many crimes were opportunistic in nature and could be have prevented if the victims were more responsible in taking care of their belongings.
The bulk of the increase in crime rate can be attributed to minor theft and related offences, such as theft in dwelling and other theft.
Handphone crime featured prominently in the increases for several offences, most notably robbery, snatch theft and other theft.
Cheating and related offences, housebreaking and snatch theft
Mr Ahmad Khalis has rightly pointed out that there has been a significant increase in cheating and related offences, housebreaking and snatch theft.
The increase in cheating and related offences is due in part to a rise in cases of Criminal Breach of Trust. And many of these involved handphones. A typical scenario is that of a culprit who fails to return the victim¡¯s handphone after borrowing it.
On housebreaking, there was an increase of some 230 cases, from 1,240 in 2004 to 1,470 cases in 2005.
There was also an increase of 48 cases of housebreaking involving culprits who gained entry through unsecured windows or doors or where there were no signs of tampering.
This suggests that residents had failed to secure their premises before they leave their homes or retire for the night. Such crimes can be avoided if we take care to ensure that our homes are well-secured. Residents can also install alarm systems to deter housebreakers or alert their neighbours if their homes are being broken into.
In 2005, there were 23 serial housebreakers arrested for a total of 257 cases, compared to 28 serial housebreakers arrested for 208 cases in 2004.
Mr Ahmad Khalis asked if there are special efforts to rehabilitate such serial offenders. While the Prisons Department does not have special rehabilitative programmes for serial housebreakers, it would customize rehabilitation programmes based on the individual and his level of needs and risk of re-offending.
These programmes address the offenders¡¯ criminal thinking that causes the offending behaviours and also helps to impart pro-social life skills to them.
Handphone Crimes
As for snatch theft, where a person¡¯s belongings are forcibly snatched away from him, cases involving handphones have increased from 160 cases in 2004 to 280 cases in 2005 and accounted for 45 per cent of the total number of snatch theft cases in 2005.
Of particular concern are the cases specifically targeting the handphones of young victims, which has increased from 50 cases in 2004 to 93 cases in 2005.
Robbery and theft cases involving handphones remain a key area of concern for the Police. The number of such cases increased significantly by 42 per cent to 4,830 cases in 2005.
This is due to the higher mobile phone penetration rate in Singapore, thereby giving rise to a larger pool of potential victims. There are 4.3 million handphone subscribers in Singapore.
Similarly, just as there are now less bicycles in Singapore than in the 1950s when they were a major mode of transportation tool, the number of bicycle thefts has correspondingly fallen over the years.

Source: Media Release 2 Mar 2006

Related Article:

- Singapore Crime Situation 2005

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