In the first six-months of 2012, overall crime reported fell by 2.3% to 15,576 cases as compared to 15,944 cases over the same period last year. ( Table 1 below refers)
Five of the six crime classes1 registered decreases. They are namely: Housebreaking and Related Crimes (-22%), Violent Property Crimes (-21.5%), Commercial Crimes (-16.6%), Crimes Against Persons (-6.9%) and Miscellaneous Crimes (-2.6%).
The only crime class which registered an increase was Theft and Related Crimes, which increased by 3.3%, mainly due to increases in cases of theft of bicycles and theft in dwelling.
Improvements were seen in unlicensed moneylending and phone scams, both of which were concerns highlighted for 2011.
DETAILS OF OVERALL CRIME SITUATION
The overall crime in the first half of 2012 fell by 2.3% to 15,576 cases as compared to 15,944 cases over the same period last year. (The elaboration is in the following six paragraphs, and Table 1 shows the breakdown of figures.)
Housebreaking and Related Crimes fell by 84 cases (-22%) from 381 cases to 297 cases. This decrease is largely attributed to fewer reported cases at commercial and industrial premises (-54 cases or -49.5%) as well as HDB residential premises (-29 cases or -21%). Police arrested a total of 122 housebreakers in Jan-Jun 2012 who are believed to be responsible for more than 230 cases of housebreaking. These arrests may have contributed to the drop in this crime class.
Violent Property Crimes, which refer to crimes which involve the taking of money or property by force or threat of force against the victims, fell by 54 cases (-21.5%) from 251 cases to 197 cases. In particular, the number of robbery cases saw a noteworthy drop of 74 cases from 223 cases to 149 cases (or a drop of 33%).
Commercial crimes, which comprise mainly Cheating and related offences, fell by 333 cases (-16.6%) from 2010 cases to 1677 cases. In particular,improvements were registered in the following Cheating and related offences.
- Fraudulent charges made to credit/debit payment cards – Cases of fraudulent charges made to payment cards fell by 144 cases (or 60.5%) from 238 cases to 94 cases. A significant number of payment card fraud cases in 2011 involved the theft of payment cards from the mail system. Police have been worked closely with various stakeholders to enhance security for payment card systems and have made a number of good arrests. (Refer to Annex A for details)
- Failure to deliver goods and services - Cases of failure to deliver goods and services fell by 46 cases (or 19.7%), from 234 cases to 188 cases. These cases mainly involved victims who made purchases after responding to advertisements from culprits – often over the Internet, but eventually did not receive the items or services paid for.
- Inducing victims to purchase counterfeit/worthless goods - Cases where victims were induced to purchase counterfeit/worthless goods saw a drop of 37 cases (or 66.1%), from 56 cases to 19 cases. In these cases, the perpetrators offered to sell items like gold, luxury watches or electronic products to victims, when the items were in fact counterfeits or worthless.
- Rental Scams – Cases involving bogus rental of flats fell by 21 cases (or 45.7%) from 46 cases to 25 cases. In these cases, the victims had responded to culprits’ advertisements on flats available for rent, and were cheated of rental fees and deposits paid upfront but not able to move into the flats.
Crimes Against Persons, which refer to crimes where the victim suffers bodily harm as a result of the crime, fell by 142 cases (-6.9%) from 2,055 cases to 1,913 cases. Crimes under this category include Murder, Serious Hurt, Rape and Outrage of Modesty, all of which saw decreases in the first 6 months of 2012 compared with the same period last year.
Miscellaneous Crimes, which comprise various offences such as vandalism, trespassing and disorderly behavior, registered a decrease of 54 cases (-2.6%) from 2,089 to 2,035 cases.
One of the six crime classes, namely Theft and Related Crimes, registered an increase of 299 cases (+3.3%) from 9,158 to 9,457 cases. The increase is largely attributed to: i) an increase in Theft of Bicycle cases which increased by 260 cases (+52.8%) from 492 to 752 cases; and ii) Theft in Dwelling, which increased by 161 cases (+8%) from 2010 to 2171 cases. (Both Theft of Bicycle and Theft in Dwelling will be elaborated upon below in para 20-23)
Table 1: Breakdown Of Overall Crime In Jan-Jun 2011/2012
IMPROVEMENTS ACHIEVED IN KEY AREAS OF CONCERN
In the first half of this year, improvements were seen in the following areas which were highlighted as crime concerns last year:
- the unlicensed moneylending (UML) and harassment situation; and
- phone scams.
UML & harrassment cases decline, more arrested for loansharking activities
Improvements were seen in the crime situation involving loansharking activities. There was a decline of 1,414 unlicensed moneylending (UML) and harassment cases (-21.3%) from the 6,642 cases reported in the first half of last year to 5,228 cases over the same period this year. While the number of cases has fallen, continued enforcement efforts by the police have resulted in an increase of 185 persons arrested (+21.8%) for UML and harassment, from 848
persons arrested for the first half of 2011 to 1,033 arrested over the same period this year.
However, a continuing concern is the increase in youths2 arrested for involvement in UML and harassment activities. There was an increase of 14 youths (+15%) arrested for loanshark-related activities, from 95 youths arrested in the first half of last year to 109 youths arrested over the same period this year. Slightly more than half of those arrested (57 youths or 52%) were recruited by loansharks to commit acts of harassment. The remainder had assisted loanshark syndicates by providing bank accounts to facilitate UML activities and distributing flyers to advertise on behalf of loansharks.
Director of the Criminal Investigation Department ( CID ), Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck said: “Police are pressing on in the fight against loansharks, who are continuing with their cowardly and despicable act of involving youths to do their dirty work. As we continue to clamp down on loanshark syndicates, I want to caution against anyone, regardless of their age, from assisting loansharks in any way. The law will catch up and offenders face heavy penalties.”
Improvement in phone scam situation, cases and amounts cheated decline
Phone scams, in cases where money was cheated, showed improvements, with a decline of 18 cases from 116 cases reported in the first half of 2011 to 98 cases over the same period this year. The total amount of money cheated decreased from $3 million in the first half of 2011 to $2.37 million for the same period this year. Although the situation involving phone scams improved, the amount of money cheated ($2.37 million) remains significant. (Refer to Annex B for a breakdown).
Members of public should continue to remain wary of phone scams and ignore unsolicited calls from strangers. They should call ‘999’ immediately, especially if urgent assistance is required, such as when receiving calls regarding their loved ones being kidnapped. (Refer to Annex C for preventive measures against phone scams)
Director of Operations, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, Lim Kok Thai said, “Conmen will continue to think of new ways and change their tactics often with one purpose in mind; to get victims to part with their money by playing on their greed and fear. Always be wary when receiving calls from unknown persons under suspicious circumstances. If unsure, call the police immediately.”
KEY PREVENTIVE MESSAGES FOR 2012
While the overall crime for the period Jan-Jun 2012 has decreased, the police would like to alert the public to stay vigilant and take simple precautionary steps to avoid becoming a victim of crime in the following areas:
- Theft of bicycles
- Theft in dwelling
- Cyber extortion
- ‘Microsoft’ phone scams
Secure your bicycles to prevent theft
The number of theft of bicycle cases has increased by 260 cases (+52.8%) from 492 cases in the first half of last year to 752 cases over the same period this year. The cases were mostly reported in the housing estates. The most common areas where bicycles were reported stolen are common corridors and void decks of HDB units, and bicycle bays at MRT stations.
The police and the National Crime Prevention Council have been jointly promoting awareness of bicycle theft through crime prevention advertorials in newspapers, public buses and MRT trains. Police are also working with Town Councils to install enhanced bicycle racks. For example, Sembawang-Nee Soon Town Council and Ang Mo Kio Town Council have recently each installed over 100 security-enhanced bicycle racks in Nee Soon South and Sengkang respectively. Police are also working with SMRT and SBS Transit to install more CCTVs at the bicycle bays at MRT stations. Police are also engaging cycling interest groups to spread the anti-theft message. Apart from such initiatives, bicycle owners can take simple steps to safeguard their bicycles from theft. (Refer to Annex D for the crime prevention advisory on bicycle theft)
Safeguard your valuables at home and at work
Cases of Theft in Dwelling registered increases of 161 cases (+8%) from 2,010 cases in the first half of last year to 2,171 cases over the same period this year. These thefts were commonly reported in the following areas:
- at residential units where suspects are domestic helpers, tenants, movers, renovation contractors, deliverymen;
- at residential corridor units where items stolen were placed within easy reach for theft through the window, or suspected to be stolen through the “fishing” method where suspects who used poles or other objects to reach the items;
- at dormitories where suspects are co-tenants or visitors; and
- at commercial premises where suspects are co-workers, contractors, cleaners, or deliverymen. Cases where sales assistants reported the loss of personal property left unattended at cashier counters were also common.
The public is advised to take precautions to safeguard their belongings against theft at home or at work. Since Jan 2012, there was a spate of over 20 theft-in-dwelling cases involving the ‘fishing’ method, where culprits used poles and other objects to steal items placed near unsecured windows along HDB corridors. Police are liaising with grassroots organisations to spread the crime prevention message to its residents. We are also working with HDB to explore suitable measures, such as the inclusion of a crime advisory into the welcome package given to new home owners. Residents are urged to take simple precautionary measures against such opportunistic crimes, such as not leaving mobile phones, laptops, handbags and other valuables near windows which are accessible by outsiders. (Refer to Annex E for the crime prevention advisory on Theft in Dwelling through the ‘fishing’ method)
Be vigilant against cyber extortion
There has been an increase in the number of cyber extortion cases involving female suspects attempting to extort money from male victims. The suspects attempted to extort money by threatening to post photos or videos of the victims following an online cyber-sex session over a web camera. The number of cases has increased from 11 for the whole of 2011 to 32 cases from January to July this year. The female suspects claimed to be from the Philippines , Korea or Japan . Despite the increase in cases, the suspects were largely unsuccessful in their extortion attempts with only one successful extortion attempt reported, where a victim transferred $500 to a suspect in June 2012. (Refer to Annex F for details on the modus operandi and crime prevention advisory.)
Beware of ‘Microsoft’ phone scams
A new phone scam trend was observed early this year with victims receiving phone calls from suspects who claimed to be representatives from the computer firm ‘Microsoft’. Of the 32 cases reported in the first half of this year, five victims transferred a total sum of $1,462 to scammers, each transferring amounts between $100 and $800. Although the amount involved is relatively small in comparison to other types of phone scams, the public is advised to be vigilant against this new variation of phone scam. (Refer to Annex G on the crime prevention advisory on ‘Microsoft’ phone scams)
HOLISTIC APPROACH IN CRIME CONTROL
Police will continue to adopt a holistic approach in its overall strategy to fight crime. Director of Public Affairs, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ng Guat Ting (Ms) said, “While overall crime has fallen, we will not be complacent. Police will continue to work with the community and key stakeholders to prevent, deter and detect crime. At the individual and community level, we urge all to be crime prevention conscious. Make crime prevention a habit. By doing so, we reduce the opportunities for criminals to strike.”
INITIATIVES TO ENHANCE SECURITY OF (CREDIT/DEBIT) PAYMENT CARDS
A significant number of payment card fraud cases in 2011 involved the syndicated theft of payment cards from the mail system. Police have made a number of good arrests of suspects involved in payment card fraud. For example, in June 2012, police arrested a 56-year old male Chinese responsible for 13 counts of cheating involving credit cards stolen from the mail system. Police have also taken tough action against counterfeit card syndicates. Between April 2012 and June 2012, three male Malaysians were arrested for the possession and fraudulent use of 29 counterfeit credit cards.
Police have been working closely with various stakeholders, including banks and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, to enhance security for payment card systems. One recent initiative which came into effect on 1 July 2012 was the requirement for card activation for all new and replacement credit and debit cards. This is intended to curb the pilferage of cards from the mail system for fraud.
Notwithstanding the decrease in payment card fraud, we are mindful that payment card fraudsters may adopt other modus operandi to commit payment card fraud. This could include syndicated fraudulent applications of payment cards and line of credit facilities, ATM skimming and online fraud. Financial institutions and merchants should therefore set adequate red-flag alerts when processing applications and transactions.
Police will also continue to work with the community through public education and crime prevention programmes, like roadshows at prominent shopping belts, and media campaigns to raise the awareness of the community on such crimes. With these initiatives, the public is urged to take proactive actions from becoming unwitting victims of payment card fraud. Timely alerts from the public on such fraud will enable the police to take swift enforcement action. Detailed crime prevention advisories on payment card fraud can be found at the CAD website - http://www.cad.gov.sg/serv/pre/cri_pre_adv/Credit+Card+Fraud.htm
BREAKDOWN OF PHONE SCAMS IN JAN-JUN 2011/2012
CRIME PREVENTION ADVISORY FOR LOTTERY AND KIDNAP PHONE SCAMS
Tricksters often come up with new and innovative phone scams to trick victims into parting with their money. Some of these ruses include Kidnap and Lottery scams. Members of public are advised to be alert and share the following preventive measures with your loved-ones.
LOTTERY PHONE SCAM
The culprit will inform you that you have won a prize in a foreign lottery/lucky draw. The culprit will request for an advance payment to help you process the claiming of the prize.
- Do not make any advance payment to claim any prize money. Winning a lucky draw or lottery does not require you to make any advance payment;
- Ignore such notifications especially when you did not purchase any ticket or participate in any such draws; and
- Call police immediately at ‘999’ to report the case
KIDNAP PHONE SCAM
The criminal will tell you that your family member had been kidnapped and demand that a ransom be paid. In certain cases, you can hear cries for help in the background.
- Call police immediately at ‘999’ to report the case
- Remain calm and contact your loved one immediately to confirm his or her safety.
- Do not transfer any money via remittance agencies, banks or any other means to the caller.
CRIME PREVENTION ADVISORY FOR THEFT OF BICYCLES
Police encourage bicycle owners to adopt the following crime prevention measures:
- Keep your bicycle at home when you are not using it;
- Lock your bicycle when left unattended, even if it is only for a short while;
- Secure your bicycle to a permanent structure such as a bicycle rack. All removable bicycle components should preferably be locked or secured;
- Use a durable lock. You can consider using a U-lock that provides better security compared to cable locks, or use a bicycle lock with an alarm feature;
- If you need to park your bicycle at a public place, choose one with high human traffic and is well-lit, preferably with CCTV monitoring; and
- Make unique permanent identification marks such as engravings, or affix a Bicycle Security Label on the body of your bicycle. You can approach any Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) with your bicycle to collect the label. T he Bicycle Security Label comes with a unique serial number that helps you and police to identify your bicycle if it is stolen.
CRIME PREVENTION ADVISORY FOR THEFT IN DWELLING (‘FISHING’ METHOD)
Culprits would use poles or other objects to reach for bags, wallets, computers, mobile phones and other valuable items through the windows along HDB common corridors. Police encourage home occupants of units with windows along common corridors to adopt the following crime prevention measures:
Keep a lookout for any suspicious person(s) loitering outside your home.
- Ensure all gates, doors, windows and other openings are well secured with good quality grilles and/or padlocks;
- Lock all the doors and windows before going to sleep or when no one is at home, even if it is for a short period of time;
- Do not leave valuables such as cash and handphones near the sliding window or at places which are accessible by outsiders;
- Consider investing in a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system and a security alarm which is monitored 24 hours for surveillance and protection purposes. Ensure that it is tested periodically and in good working condition; and
Cyber extortion attempts by female suspects
The female suspect would typically get acquainted with the male victim through social networking websites like Tagged.com or Facebook, where she would first add the victim as a friend. After the victim accepts her request, she would commence a webcam conversation. After some time, the suspect would initiate a cyber-sex session on Skype using a webcam. The suspect would usually perform the following acts:
- Undressing in front of the web camera and persuading the victim to remove his clothes as well;
- Speaking in a provocative manner to seduce and entice the victim to strip;
- Dancing in a provocative manner in front of the webcam to arouse the victim; and
- Persuade the victim to appear nude or perform sexual acts in front of the webcams.
Unknown to the victims, the suspects would record the acts. The suspects would then threaten to circulate compromising photos and videos of the victims to extort money from them.
Crime Prevention Advisory
The public is advised to take the following preventive measures when interacting online:
- Be wary of messages from unknown people who want to befriend you.
- Do not accede to any request that may put you in a vulnerable position, such as performing compromising acts in front of the webcam, or giving personal details about yourself when interacting with other internet users.
- If anyone attempts to extort money from you or should you become a victim of such an attempt, call ‘999’ immediately.
- Do not remit or transfer money.
Crime Prevention Advisory for ‘Microsoft’ Phone Scams
Victims reported received calls from unknown persons claiming to be from the technical support sections of Microsoft or other major software companies.
The callers would inform the victims that their computers were found to be experiencing problems and were in need of security or software updates. In most cases, the callers would ask the victims to download and install one or more software from the Internet. The victims were asked to provide the software user account identification codes and passwords to the caller. In some instances, victims received instructions from the callers to enter some commands into their computers.
Some victims observed that their computers were remotely controlled or files were deleted remotely after following the instructions of the callers. The callers would then convince the victims to buy additional software by making online payments or providing their credit card details.
Members of public are advised to adopt the following crime prevention measures:
- Ignore such calls. Do not follow the instructions of the callers to install any software into your computer or enter any commands; and
- Do not make any payment or divulge your credit card or bank account details to the callers.
Victims of scams should report the matter to the police immediately.
1 The six crime classes are namely Crimes Against Persons, Violent Property Crimes, Housebreaking and Related Crimes, Theft and Related Crimes, Commercial Crimes and Miscellaneous Crimes.
2 Youths refer to persons aged 7-19.