COVID-19 reduces crime by 29 pct last year but online shopping fraud up 251 pct

2021-02-26 03:09     Comment:0

Macau’s number of reported crimes fell 29.1 percent to 10,057 last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak said in a statement yesterday.

However, COVID-19 raised the number of reported computer crimes by 96.7 percent to 531 in 2020, the statement released by the Secretariat for Security (GSS) said.

Of the 531 recorded computer crimes, the number of cases involving online shopping with credit cards increased “noticeably” by 251.3 percent to 411 from 2019 when only 117 such cases were reported, according to the statement.

“Consumption via online has become more popular with residents since COVID-19 last year,” the statement said, adding that this situation “has given criminals opportunities to steal online users’ personal information by setting up fake websites or using Trojan horse malware”, enabling them to fraudulently use the victims’ credit cards.

According to the statement, the number of reported fraud cases decreased 34 percent to 1,007 last year. While the number of online dating scams dropped 17.3 percent to 43 last year, the number of cases in which criminals defrauded victims by persuading them to join bogus investment schemes rose 135 percent to 94 last year, the statement said.

The police recorded 1,263 theft cases and 26 robbery cases last year, a decline of 54.5 percent and 67.5 percent respectively from 2019, when 2,773 and 80 such cases were reported, the statement said.

Violent crimes drop 63.9 pct

According to the statement, the number of reported violent crimes fell 63.9 percent to 243 cases last year, while 673 cases were reported in 2019.

Two homicides were recorded last year, according to the statement, pointing out that both occurred in the first six months. Both cases were “quickly” solved.

The statement also reaffirmed that “very few” serious violent crime cases such as kidnapping and grievous bodily harm were reported last year.

Child sexual abuse cases rise 118.2 pct

The statement said that while the number of reported rape cases decreased 32.6 percent to 29 last year, the police recorded 24 child sexual abuse cases last year, an increase of 118.2 percent, or 13 cases more than in 2019. The statement pointed out that some of the 24 cases that were reported last year occurred a decade ago.

According to the statement, the police recorded 78 usury cases last year, a “large” drop of 87.1 percent from 2019.

The police recorded 37 cases of false imprisonment last year, a “large” decrease of 89.5 percent, the statement said.

False imprisonment usually refers to cases in which gamblers defaulting on their instant gambling debts are held against their will by loan sharks in a hotel room or private flat to put pressure on the victims’ family and friends to pay up.

The statement also said that the police investigated 2,342 cases by using the citywide CCTV camera system, colloquially known as “Eyes in the Sky”, last year.

The statement also said that the police detected 147 violations by cabbies last year, 3,025 cases less than in 2019, or a 95.4 percent decrease. The statement attributed the decline to the new law regulating the city’s taxi sector, which came into force on June 3, 2019. The 147 recorded violations included eight cases of overcharging passengers, a 99.6 percent drop, and 32 cases of refusing to pick up passengers, a 95.3 percent decrease.

The statement also pledged that the police would remain highly vigilant to various factors that might cause social instability while continuing to assist the health authorities in implementing their COVID-19 prevention measures.

This file photo shows Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak talking to reporters in the Legislative Assembly (AL) earlier this month. Photo: GCS

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