Police to step up operations at malls to curb theft during holiday season

Plainclothes police officers will be on duty in malls and crowded places during this shopping season to keep an eye out both for suspicious persons as well as individuals who might be at risk.
Plainclothes police officers will be on duty in malls and crowded places during this shopping season to keep an eye out both for suspicious persons as well as individuals who might be at risk.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - Fewer people got their pockets picked and shops reported fewer thefts this year but police are urging people to be vigilant as they expect a year-end spike in such crime in the upcoming holiday season.

A total of 3,418 cases of shop theft and pick pocketing were reported between January and September (2017), a lower figure than the 3,567 reports lodged in the same period last year.

Despite the drop, police have warned people to be on their guard as crowds swell in the shopping season.

Commanding officer of the Orchard Neighbourhood Police Centre, Superintendent of Police Toh Pei Lian, said the increase in such crimes in the final quarter is usually around 15 to 20 per cent over any other time. The total figure for these crimes last year was 4,795.

At a press conference on Monday (Nov 27),police said they would step up operations in malls and shopping areas to curb crime.

In addition to more uniformed officers on patrol, plainclothes police officers will be on duty in malls and crowded places to keep an eye out both for suspicious persons as well as individuals who might be at risk.

If an officer spots a potential victim, he may approach the individual and advise him or her to be careful.

On Monday, in a demonstration, officers were seen speaking to both members of the public and shopkeepers at Wisma Atria.

One shopper, Ms Lee Lihua, 60, a homemaker, said that the operation made her feel safer.

She said, in Mandarin, "Having them there to give advice is helpful to us shoppers and gives me a sense of assurance."

A member of staff at Spa Ceylon Boutique, a shop in Wisma Atria selling spa products, Ms Dolly Kaur, 52, said in her four years working at the shop, she has been approached several times in these operations.

She said: "There are always newcomers and it is useful to have officers come and give them tips and advice. It gives us a sense of security and also shows the high level of professionalism and security in Singapore."