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Overall law and order situation continues to improve in the first half of 2014

     The overall law and order situation in the first six months of 2014 saw sustainable improvement with a decrease of six per cent in the overall crime figure which reached a record low since 1980, according to the Police Director of Crime and Security, Mr Lo Mung-hung.

     Speaking at a press conference today (July 30) to review the crime situation in the territory between January and June this year, Mr Lo said that during the period, a total of 33,916 cases of crime were recorded, representing a decrease of six per cent when compared with 36,068 cases in the first half of 2013.

     There were a total of 5,418 violent crime cases recorded in the first half of this year, a decrease of 10.8 per cent when compared with the corresponding period last year.

     Mr Lo said figures of most crimes recorded drops of more than ten per cent, including homicide (down 75.5 per cent), rape (down 62.7 per cent), robbery (down 31 per cent), indecent assault (down 26.4 per cent), juvenile crimes (down 20.2 per cent), burglary (down 18.3 per cent), domestic violence (criminal) (down 13.2 per cent), wounding and serious assault (down 12.5 per cent), triad-related cases (down 11.6 per cent) and criminal damage (down 10.7 per cent).

     Though most major crimes had dropped, individual crimes including deception and blackmail recorded rises.

     There were 4,372 cases of deception in the first half of 2014, a rise of 787 cases or 22 per cent when compared with the same period of 2013.  More increases were seen in online business fraud, social media fraud, telephone deception and email scams (corporate level).

     The first half of 2014 also saw a total of 1,180 online business fraud cases, an increase of 530 cases or 82 per cent over the same period of 2013. The pecuniary loss rose by nearly 50 per cent to around $26 million. Fifty-eight per cent of online business fraud involved online auction or shopping while the remaining 42 per cent were those relating to online business or credit card misuse.

     "A task force was formed by Police earlier and constant operations were launched to target frauds relating to online auction or shopping. In an operation conducted on June 18, Police arrested four people for being connected with 79 cases involving pecuniary loss of $550,000," Mr Lo said.

     For social media fraud, there were 466 reported cases in the first half of 2014, an increase of 357 cases or more than three-fold when compared with the 109 cases in the same period of 2013. The pecuniary loss increased by more than one-fold to around $43 million.

     "Such increase was caused by a number of deception cases initiated by instant messaging applications in the said period. Fraudsters first logged in to an account by unlawful means and contacted friends on the user・s directory. Targets were told to buy Game Cards at convenience stores and were further requested to send the serial number as well as PIN number thereon to him or her. Upon receiving these particulars, fraudsters would sell the Game Cards for money.

     "Liaison with relevant application developers has facilitated the update of such applications with enhanced user authentication function. Focal publicity campaigns have also heightened awareness of related modus operandi among the public. A sharp drop in figures was thus noted from its peak in May," Mr Lo added.

     In the first half of 2014, Police received 1,178 reports of telephone deception cases, a rise of 308 cases or 35.4 per cent. The 69.9 per cent rate of failed attempts was higher than 63 per cent recorded in the same period of 2013. Almost all cases were committed by modus operandi of .virtual kidnapping・ and .guess who I am・ which recorded 629 and 545 cases respectively.  
     On email scam in the corporate level, Police received 569 reported cases in the first half of 2014, representing an increase of 58 cases or more than ten per cent when compared with the same period of last year.  The amount of loss went up from about $310 million in the first half of 2013 to $570 million in the same period of 2014, representing an increase of about 80 per cent. Only around 29 per cent of the victimised companies were Hong Kong companies.

     "To tackle various types of scams, Commercial Crime Bureau rolled out a scam prevention platform .Fight Scams Together・ this month. By optimising the use of HKP Mobile App and YouTube Channel, Police made timely dissemination of the latest modus operandi and preventive messages in the form of video clips and text", Mr Lo said.

     On blackmail, there were 422 reports in the first six months of 2014, an increase of 172 cases or 68.8 per cent over the same period of 2013.  The increase was mainly attributed to the rise in the number of blackmail cases relating to .naked chat・.  In the first half of 2014, Police received 317 blackmail cases relating to .naked chat・, an increase of nearly 1.4-fold when compared with the 131 cases in the same period of 2013. Pecuniary loss ranged from several hundred dollars to nearly $70,000.

     "Police had initiated intelligence gathering and analysis into all .naked chat・ blackmail cases reported in Hong Kong since 2013, and took initiative to exchange relevant intelligence with overseas law enforcement agencies during an Interpol conference to secure their cooperation. The Interpol, based on intelligence furnished by Hong Kong Police, launched a joint operation targeting such cases with active participation from other law enforcement agencies. As a result, in May 2014, 58 persons were arrested at a number of locations in the Philippines," Mr Lo said.

     "The operation brought positive effect to the combat against .naked chat・ cases.  Hong Kong Police will continue to maintain close cooperation with overseas law enforcement agencies and exchange intelligence. In respect to publicity and education, Police enriched the video contents of the .Fight Scams Together・ platform with .naked chat・ cases with a view to conveying related messages to the public," he added.

     Mr Lo also talked about homicide, serious drug offences and youth crimes in the press conference.

     There were 13 homicide cases in the first half of 2014, a decrease of 75.5 per cent when compared with 53 cases in the same period of last year.  If the 39 cases related to Lamma incident was set aside, the figure for the first half of 2014 still dropped by one case from the same period of last year.

     All the 13 homicide cases were detected. Four involved domestic violence, four were committed by relatives while the remaining five cases were resulted from different kinds of disputes, debt-related issues or mental illness.

     Serious drug cases totalled 1,083, a slight decrease of three cases when compared with the same period of 2013.  Cases involved Ice were on the rise while decreases were recorded in serious drug cases involving ketamine, cocaine and cannabis.

     As for the seizure of dangerous drugs made by Police and the Customs and Excise Department, there saw rises in the seizure of Ice, ketamine and cannabis, and drops in the seizure of cocaine, heroin and ecstasy pills. Ketamine constituted the largest percentage of seizure while Ice and ecstasy pills followed.

     A total of 2,287 juveniles and youngsters were arrested for crime in the first half of 2014, a drop of 579 persons or 20 per cent as compared with the same period of last year. Most of them were arrested for wounding and serious assault, shop theft and miscellaneous thefts, serious drug offences and criminal damage.

     Mr Lo also took the opportunity to talk about recent cases that caught the public・s attention.

     In the three cases involving mailing of firearms occurred in June and July, Police seized seven suspected genuine firearms, firearms accessories and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunitions. Police are conducting exhaustive investigation into these three cases as well as the shooting case that took place at Kai Ching Estate, including tracing the sources of arms involved.

     Police will maintain close liaison and strengthen intelligence exchange with Customs and Excise Department and law enforcement agencies of the Mainland, Macau and overseas countries to interdict the inflow of illegal firearms.

     In addition, during the World Cup 2014 between June and July, Police mounted vigorous operations in the territory against illegal gambling activities, resulting in the arrests of 176 people and seizure of $13 million cash and betting slips amounting to more than $750 million which hit a record high.

     In conclusion, Mr Lo said the sustainable improvement in the overall law and order situation in Hong Kong in the first half of 2014 was the result of a law-abiding society, the effective law enforcement of the Police and Police-public cooperation.

     "Police will continue to provide the highest quality service and we are also looking forward to the public・s continuous support to assist us in safeguarding public safety and public order so that Hong Kong will remain one of the safest and most stable societies in the world," Mr Lo said.

Ends/Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:47


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