Police to beef up presence at malls

A plainclothes police officer approaching customers at a cafe at Wisma Atria yesterday to offer advice on protecting themselves against crime and to hand out brochures on crime prevention methods.
A plainclothes police officer approaching customers at a cafe at Wisma Atria yesterday to offer advice on protecting themselves against crime and to hand out brochures on crime prevention methods.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

They also urge shops and shoppers to be alert as they expect spike in theft, pickpocketing in holiday season

Fewer people had their pockets picked and shops reported fewer thefts this year, but police are urging people to be vigilant as they expect a spike in such crimes in the coming holiday season.

They also said that they will step up policing in malls and shopping areas.

A total of 3,428 cases of shop theft and pickpocketing were reported between January and September, lower than the 3,567 reports made in the same period last year.

Despite the drop, police are warning people to be on their guard as crowds swell in the year-end shopping season.

The commanding officer of the Orchard Neighbourhood Police Centre, Superintendent of Police Toh Pei Lian, said the rise in the final quarter is usually around 15 per cent to 20 per cent above other periods. The annual figure for these crimes last year was 4,795.

To curb any likelihood of an increase at malls and shopping areas, more uniformed and plainclothes police officers will be put on duty.

Officers are also tasked with keeping an eye out for potential victims, whom they will advise to be careful.

Yesterday, they gave a demonstration at Wisma Atria mall on how they would alert shoppers and shopkeepers on ways to keep their things safe.

Some of the tips they gave shoppers include keeping their valuables in sight at all times and ensuring that such items as their handbags and purses are zipped up.

One shopper, housewife Lee Lihua, 60, said that the extra police presence would make her feel safer: "Having them present to give advice is helpful and I find it reassuring."

For shopkeepers, the police advised them to keep a lookout for suspicious people in their shops and ensure their customers do not leave any personal belongings unattended while they shop.

Ms Dolly Kaur, 52, an employee at retailer Spa Ceylon Boutique, found the tips and advice useful as "they give her "a sense of security".

Aside from approaching individuals, police have also intensified collaboration with the managements of malls.

A Wisma Atria spokesman said that to support the police, it has "rolled out various initiatives, including police patrol in the mall, regular circulation of crime prevention news, and crime prevention briefings for all tenants".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2017, with the headline 'Police to beef up presence at malls'. Print Edition | Subscribe