Drop in physical crimes in 2020 partly due to Covid-19 restrictions: S'pore police

The overall crime rate still edged up by 6.5 per cent owing to the increase in scams. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE -There was an overall decrease in physical crimes reported last year, with theft and housebreaking reaching a 36-year low amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Figures released by the police on Tuesday (Feb 9) showed that the overall crime rate edged up by 6.5 per cent owing to the increase in scams.

However, theft and its related crimes dropped by 33.1 per cent to 7,448 cases from 11,128 cases in 2019, while housebreaking and related crimes fell by 24.9 per cent to 211 cases last year, down from 281 cases in 2019.

Unlicensed money-lending harassment and outrage of modesty also fell last year, with the police also attributing this decrease to the restriction on movement during the circuit breaker period from April to June.

Unlicensed moneylending, which includes placing harassment notes in letter boxes and at residential units as well as splashing paint, decreased by 36.7 per cent to 3,344 cases last year, from 5,281 cases in 2019.

The number of outrage of modesty cases fell by 17.8 per cent to 1,320 last year, from 1,605 in 2019. The police said this decrease is somewhat due to the "low ridership on public transport, low footfall at shopping malls and the closure of public entertainment outlets" - locations where such cases frequently occur.

Singapore also ranked first in the Gallup's 2020 Global Law and Order report for the seventh consecutive year, with 97 per cent of residents saying they felt safe walking home alone in their neighbourhood at night, compared with an average of 69 per cent worldwide. The Gallup index polled people on their sense of personal security and their personal experiences with crime and law enforcement in the city or area where they live.

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police How Kwang Hwee, director of the Criminal Investigation Department, said: "While Singapore's streets and homes remain safe, online scam cases continue to increase in line, with the global trend."

Of the 15,756 scams reported here in 2020, 3,354 were e-commerce scams.

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