Choa Chu Kang block gets CCTV to fight loan sharks

Photos from the Singapore Police Force website of suspects allegedly involved in loan-sharking activities. The police are requesting anyone with information to call their hotline.
Photos from the Singapore Police Force website of suspects allegedly involved in loan-sharking activities. The police are requesting anyone with information to call their hotline.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Authorities have brought forward the installation of closed-circuit television cameras at a Housing Board block targeted by loan sharks.

Residents of Block 538 in Limbang town, Choa Chu Kang, had been receiving letters threatening that they would be locked in their flats.

The tactic of sending such letters to random residents, even if they do not owe money, is often used by loan sharks.

Last night, MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC Alex Yam said that CCTV cameras were installed at the block two weeks ago, a fortnight sooner than they were due to be put in.

They have been put in places where they can catch anyone entering or leaving the block.

"If a block has three staircase landings, we have cameras installed at all three staircases," said Mr Yam.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, heissued a stern warning to loan sharks and runners, saying: "You threaten my residents, means you threaten me and my 500 volunteers. I don't like threats and we certainly don't take them lying down".

MP for Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC Gan Thiam Poh told The Straits Times he had received about five complaints from residents about loan shark harassment this year and that he had been helping them to get permission for the installation of CCTV cameras.

"CCTV cameras are effective, but they can't be the only measure," said Mr Gan. "Police need to trace the culprit and catch the mastermind.

"I have been going around to share with residents that they need to come together to fight this crime. If every neighbour cares and helps each other, the loan shark runners would not dare to strike, knowing that there are many pairs of eyes watching them."

Police are hunting around 30 suspects allegedly involved in loan-sharking activities this year. The Singapore Police Force has put photos of the suspects - apparently from CCTV cameras - on its website, along with a request for information.

Last month, 22 men and four women were arrested for suspected involvement in two separate loan shark cases.

Anyone with information on the suspects' whereabouts is asked to call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000.

joycel@sph.com.sg