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Community action, installation of cameras help cut vehicle theft, loan shark harassment

SINGAPORE — While the overall number of crime cases went up last year, there were improvements in other classes of crime, where offences such as unlicensed-moneylending harassment and motor-vehicle thefts recorded decade-low figures.

Police cameras at a neighbourhood carpark. TODAY file photo

Police cameras at a neighbourhood carpark. TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE — While the overall number of crime cases went up last year, there were improvements in other classes of crime, where offences such as unlicensed-moneylending harassment and motor-vehicle thefts recorded decade-low figures.

There were 303 motor-vehicle theft cases last year — the lowest in 20 years. In all, there was 1,537 cases of motor-vehicle theft, theft of motor-vehicle components and theft from motor vehicles, a 6.4 per cent drop from the 1,642 cases in 2014, the Singapore Police Force said in its annual crime statistics today (Feb 12).

The police attributed the decline to the growing popularity of in-vehicle cameras in motor vehicles, which act as a strong deterrence against would-be criminals and provide leads for investigations. Last year also saw the launch of the Vehicles-on-Watch initiative, where participating vehicle owners may be approached by the police for footage from their in-vehicle cameras to help with investigations.

To date, more than 1,500 vehicle owners are participating in the project, which covers more than 100 carparks in Bedok, Marine Parade, Serangoon, Punggol and Choa Chu Kang.

Last year’s figures for crimes such as rioting, robbery, housebreaking and snatch theft also recorded the lowest numbers in 20 years.

Cases of snatch theft for instance, fell by 49.1 per cent to 84 cases last year, while robbery cases fell by 47.4 per cent to 121 cases last year.

The number of unlicensed-moneylending-related harassment cases last year was also the lowest in a decade.

There were 4,229 cases related to unlicensed moneylending and harassment last year, a 26.6 per cent drop from the 5,763 cases in 2014.

The extensive network of police cameras in Housing and Development Board blocks and the community’s active participation in neighbourhood-watch groups were singled out by the police as two significant measures that helped bring down the number of unlicensed-moneylending-related cases.

The police cameras have helped increase police presence on the ground, and HDB blocks that have been installed with these cameras have also seen a steady decline in such harassment cases, said the police.

Likewise, the Citizens-on-Patrol scheme has also grown over the years. To date, there are more than 14,000 members islandwide who help “augment police presence by being the ‘eyes and ears’ for the police during their patrols”, added the police.

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