Jump in crime blamed on tourists

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Issue 339, Page 1 & 2
Word count: 725
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The total number of criminal activities registered in Macau during the first quarter of this year increased by 264 cases or 8.6 percent over the same period of 2007, the security secretary reported yesterday.

However Cheong Kuoc Va attributed the growth to the flood of visitors in the SAR rather than an increase in the criminal behaviour of locals.

Of the statistics that were released yesterday at the security secretary’s office detailing the crime rates between January and March this year, arson and drug trafficking showed the highest growth of 157.1 percent and 55.6 percent respectively when compared with the same period of last year.

There were 18 arson cases reported, a jump of 11, while drug trafficking increased by 10 to 28 cases.

Meanwhile, the number of criminal activities totalled 3,345, a rise from 3,081 in the first three months of 2007.

Of which, 982 people were sent to the Public Prosecutions Office which carries out criminal investigations.

When asked by the Macau Daily Times if the overall increase of crime showed a change in Macau’s social order, the Secretary did not give a direct response, adding that “more people in Macau naturally leads to the growth of criminal activities”.

Secretary Cheong said, according to the Statistics and Census Bureau, the SAR registered more than 7.5 million visitor arrivals in the first quarter this year, an increase of nearly 18 percent over the same period in 2007.

Although tourists can also become the victims, the Secretary said he believed some came to the city to commit illegal activities.

As drug trafficking and drug consumption had both risen by 10 cases to 28 and 42 respectively, Secretary Cheong said the Public Security Police (PSP) were “highly concerned” about such activities and had “frequent raids to smash the crimes”.

“Macau police have established close contact with Zhuhai, Hong Kong and Guangdong police forces for intelligence service, and our Customs has also introduced drug detectors at the immigration checkpoints,” he added.

According to the crime report, although juvenile delinquency registered only a slight increase of one case, taking the total to 40, eight more people were involved in the crimes than last year, including 62 males and 28 females.

Of the 40 juvenile cases, arson and drug trafficking had increased by four and three, whereas robbery and theft had dropped from 17 to 12.

As the summer holidays are approaching, the Secretary said the press security departments will put in more effort, including greater publicity and more patrols in a bid to warn the youth not to engage in unlawful activities.

By contrast, offences that resulted to “severe physical harm” of a person recorded a significant drop of 55.6 percent from nine to four cases.

Cases of “general physical harm” and intimidation also showed a decrease of about three percent and 35 percent respectively.

The second part of the report also revealed that about 19,200 mainlanders were deported to China due to illegal immigration and overstaying.

Sam Chong Nin, a secretary’s office consultant told the MDTimes most immigrants who did not hold any travel documents entered the SAR by using false personal details to get around entry bans as a result of committing offences in Macau previously.

A number of the illegal immigrants also committed robberies in the SAR, Mr Sam added.

The security forces this year began to register the number of mainlanders, either travelling on the individual visit scheme or other types of travel documents, who stayed in Macau for less than 30 days after the visas expired.

Although no comparison could be made with previous years, the first quarter of this year saw nearly 17,000 people overstay for less than a month.

Their purpose for overstaying was unknown, Mr Sam said, adding the government would “keep an eye on the numbers and investigate if they have any illegitimate intentions or just simply forget the date of expiry”.

About 430 foreigners were also deported to their home countries, with the majority coming from Southeast Asia, Mr Sam said.

The secretary consultant told the MDTimes 208 illegal workers were arrested between January and March this year, which he said was “a surprise” as the number reflected a reduction from 348 over the same period in 2007.

Working illegally in Macau is not a criminal offence, but is deemed as “a breach of regulations”, Mr Sam added.

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