Singapore’s crime rate falls to 30-year low

Michelle Kwara

The number of crime cases in Singapore fell by 4.3 per cent last year amid a drop in the number of major crimes reported.

According to the annual crime report released by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Friday, the number of crime cases in the city-state fell to 29,668 last year from 31,015 the year before.

Overall, the crime rate in Singapore fell to 549 cases per 100,00 population, the lowest rate in 30 years.

“Singapore recorded the lowest crime rate in 30 years. The support from the public in our crime fighting efforts, along with increased awareness and education of crime, has allowed us to reach this milestone achievement.” Assistant Commissioner of Police Ng Guat Ting said.

Police reported a decrease in four major areas of crime, including housebreaking and related crimes, motor vehicle theft and snatch theft, crimes against persons, and miscellaneous crimes such as vandalism, trespassing and disorderly behavior.

The SPF also reported a 20 per cent decrease in unlicensed money-lending harassment cases.

There was also a fall in the number of outrage of modesty cases. While there was a slight decrease in the number of cases reported onboard buses, there was also a slight increase in cases reported on trains.

Youth crime also decreased. The number of youths involved in crime fell by 10 per cent, with 3,020 arrests made in 2103. However, the number of youths arrested for rioting increased by 18 per cent to 283 youths in 2013.

The report also stated that kidnap and lucky draw scams saw a drop to 128 cases in 2013. The total amount of money cheated was halved from S$7.4 million in 2012 to S$3.4 million in 2013.

“Though the total amount of money cheated may have dropped, the value remains high. The public is reminded to continue to be vigilant. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” the SPF said.

On the other hand, there has been a 10 per cent increase in commercial crimes, mainly cheating and related offences. The number of commercial crimes increased by 373 cases.

There was also a slight increase of 4 per cent in the number of violent/serious property crime cases. The police say that the increase in this crime class is due to the surge in cyber extortion cases, where there was an overall increase of 44 cases, to 108 cases in 2103.

Surge in cybercrime

There also seems to be an upward trend in cyberspace scams, as the number of cases more than doubled from 238 cases in 2012 to 509 cases in 2013.

In particular, there was a surge in the number of cases involving multiple payment online purchase scams. The number of such scams shot up to 231 cases last year from 14 cases the year before.

The multiple payment scam involves culprits posing as sellers of smartphones or tablets who would cheat victims by failing to deliver the goods but then ask for further payments on the pretext of having mixed delivery orders. The victims typically agree to the further payments, but end up not receiving the item.

Internet love scams also registered a 62 per cent increase to 81 cases in 2013. The amount cheated was also significantly higher, from S$.18 million in 2012 to S$5.8 million in 2013.

The suspects, who mostly claim to be from Britain, target women through dating or social website. The suspect would claim to be coming to Singapore to propose to the victim, but then claim on the day of arrival that he had been detained by Customs for carrying excess cash. The victim would then be asked to transfer money to secure his release.

In a scam alternative, the suspect would claim to send a parcel of valuable items such as branded bags or watches, and then ask the victim to transfer money to clear the duty charges imposed on the items.

Given the shift towards online crime, the police said they “will continue to raise awareness and educate the community on such scams and fraud using the various forms of media and online platforms. The Police urge Internet users to exercise heightened vigilance to avoid falling victim to such preventable crimes.”

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