Crime rises 18 pct to 3,548 cases in Q1: Wong

2024-05-29 03:35     BY William Chan    Comment:1


Serious violent crimes stay at ‘low or zero’ level

     Macau’s police forces recorded 3,548 crimes in the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year increase of 18 percent, as well as 5.5 percent rise in comparison with the same quarter in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak announced the first-quarter crime statistics at a press conference at the São Francisco Barracks yesterday morning. 

Wong pointed out that 656 fraud cases were recorded in the first three months, a 50.8 percent increase year on year, which was the main reason for the overall crime figure to rise, while serious violent crimes showed a notable decline compared to the pre COVID-19 pandemic level.

A total of 288 telecom and online fraud cases were recorded in the first quarter, an increase both year on year and compared with the first quarter of 2019. 

Macau confirmed its first COVID-19 case in January 2020.

However, Wong underlined that the total number of phone fraud, online fraud, computer fraud, and sextortion cases in the first quarter stood at 410 cases, a decrease from 628 such cases in the fourth quarter of last year. He noted that most of the online fraud cases involved phishing text messages. Wong said he believed that most of the cases were due to “greed” by those involved, and he urged citizens to carefully verify such messages. The police would continue to combat and prevent fraud from three aspects – “prevention, crackdown, and recovery,” Wong said. 

According to Wong, recorded computer crime cases rose by 97.9 percent to 186 in the first quarter  

Fraud case rise 50.8 pct

According to Wong, the number of recorded fraud cases in the first quarter reached 656, higher than the 435 cases recorded in the same period last year and 283 in the first quarter of 2019, representing an increase of 50.8 and 131.8 percent respectively. A total of 192 online fraud cases were recorded in the first quarter, representing an increase of 55 and 134 cases compared to the same periods in 2023 and 2019, respectively, Wong said. 

Online fraud cases involving investment scams, ticket scams and online shopping scams were the most common, while phone fraud cases, reaching 96 in the first three months, also recorded an increase of 7 and 77 cases compared to the same periods in 2023 and 2019, respectively, Wong said. Macau’s public security chief also said that 90 percent of phone fraud cases involved impersonating government officials, with fraudsters mainly impersonating police officers or officials from different government entities to obtain purported “fines,” “deposits,” or personal information from the victims, Wong noted.

Wong attributed the continual increase in fraud cases to many residents not regularly reading the news and, consequently, being unable to obtain information from the authorities about fraud prevention. He also pointed out that victims, especially those with higher educational and professional career backgrounds, often falsely believe they will not be deceived by telecom fraudsters, adding that they think of themselves as being “far away” from the milieu of fraudsters and only realise they have fallen for a scam when it is too late.

The policy secretary promised that the police would continue to strengthen their anti-crime awareness campaigns, including the “On-campus Anti-scam ‘Vaccination’ Programme” launched by the Judiciary Police (PJ) and the Education and Youth Development Bureau (DSEDJ) on Friday, with the aim of curbing the increase in fraud crimes.

Property crime cases exceed 2,100

In the first quarter, the police recorded 2,186 property crime cases, a year-on-year increase of 23.9 percent, or 421 cases, among which the numbers of reported theft and robbery cases were up by 28.9 percent and 50 percent, from 433 and eight cases to 558 and 12 respectively.

A total of 77 violent crimes were recorded in first three months, 24.2 percent up from 62 cases year on year, with serious violent crimes such as “kidnapping”, “homicide” and “serious assault” remaining at “zero or low” incidence, Wong said, adding that 31 juvenile crimes were recorded in the first quarter, up by two cases in the same period of last year.

Gambling-related cases rise 122.2 pct

Regarding gambling-related crime cases in the first three months, Wong said that 351 crime cases related to gambling activities were reported, a year-on-year increase of 193 cases, or 122.2 percent, but down by 87 cases, or 19.9 percent, compared with the same period in 2019.

Wong noted that as the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has dissipated this year, there was a growth in unlawful activities related to gambling in the first quarter, compared to the same quarter of 2023, which was still impacted by the pandemic.

Regarding gambling-related crimes, 353 mainland suspects were involved, accounting for more than 70 percent of the total suspects. Wong said that criminals mainly used practice banknotes and the transfer of illicit funds to carry out criminal activities, and most cases stemmed from illegal currency exchange activities.

Reported loan-sharking cases skyrocketed by 655.6 percent from nine in the first quarter of last year to 68 percent in the first three quarter of this year, Wong underlined. 

Wong also revealed that in the first quarter 1,438 people were transferred by the police to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) for further investigation, a year-on-year growth of 54.5 percent. 

A total of 3,793 overstayers were caught in the first quarter, a year-on-year increase of 6.0 percent, according to the public security statistics revealed yesterday.

Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak addresses yesterday’s press conference about Macau’s 2024 first-quarter crime statistics, at S. Francisco Barracks. – Photo: William Chan

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