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LCQ22: Combating thefts at sea
     Following is a question by the Hon Steven Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Tang Ping-keung, in the Legislative Council today (November 2):
     Quite a number of fishermen and marine workers have relayed that when their fishing vessels berth at typhoon shelters, sheltered anchorages and inshore areas, their properties, equipment, and even fuel, etc. on the vessels are stolen from time to time. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of thefts from fishing vessels in the past three years and the amount involved, as well as the respective numbers of persons arrested and convicted; the penalties imposed on the convicted persons;
(2) of the measures put in place by various government departments in the past three years to prevent thefts from fishing vessels, as well as the staffing establishment for such work and the expenditure involved;
(3) given that thefts from fishing vessels are particularly rampant near the end of Lunar Year as well as during fishing moratorium, festive periods and periods of high oil prices, and that fishing vessels which need to be berthed for an extended period of time (due to fishing operations made unable to be conducted because of anti-epidemic restrictions) are exposed to a higher risk of thefts, whether various government departments have conducted special operations to prevent thefts during the aforesaid periods; if so, whether they have assessed the effectiveness of such operations;
(4) whether it will consider launching, on a trial basis, a typhoon shelter fight crime programme at typhoon shelters for berthing of large fishing vessels such as those in Tuen Mun, Aberdeen, Cheung Chau and Shau Kei Wan, to combat thefts from fishing vessels not only through publicity and education, but also through means such as stepping up patrols and resolving the problem of blind spots for anti-theft closed-circuit television camera systems (commonly known as "sky eye"), as well as implementing such programme at other typhoon shelters and sheltered anchorages upon accruing relevant experience;
(5) of the current number of "sky eye" installed at various typhoon shelters and sheltered anchorages; whether it has reviewed if the resolution of these "sky eye" gives enough clarity (including being able to record clear images at night to facilitate gathering of evidence); the staffing establishment for the responsibility of regularly checking the footages recorded by "sky eye"; and
(6) as it is learnt that some fishermen who have their properties stolen are reluctant to report their cases to the Police because the losses are insignificant or they are worried that reporting the cases may affect their fishing operation schedules, whether the Government has learnt about such situation, and how it will encourage fishermen who have their properties stolen to come forward to report their cases for combating the crime of thefts?
     The Police have all along been paying close attention to all theft cases. Apart from adopting a three-pronged strategy integrating law enforcement, prevention and education, the Police have maintained close co-operation with the community in order to curb and combat thefts, including those at sea.
     The reply to Member's question is as follows:
(1) The number of thefts from fishing vessels and the amount of losses in the past three years are set out in the table below:
  2020 2021 2022
(January to September)
Number of cases 4 2 0 6
Amount of losses ($) 64,083 33,500 0 97,583
     The Government does not maintain a breakdown of the number of arrests, convictions and the sentence of convicted persons in relation to thefts from fishing vessels.
(2) The Police have been working closely with stakeholders, including fishermen, to combat maritime crimes through prevention, law enforcement as well as publicity and education. On the law enforcement front, the Police have made on-going efforts to carry out high-profile patrols in near-shore waters, especially at typhoon shelters and sheltered anchorages, in order to combat thefts of vessels, thefts from vessels and other maritime crimes. The Police also conduct joint patrols and law enforcement operations with the Marine Department regularly.
     Preventing and detecting maritime crimes is one of the responsibilities of the Marine Region and is supported by the Region's existing resources. The Police will closely monitor the trend of such crimes and deploy resources flexibly to step up patrols and combat relevant crimes.
(3) to (5) Although no permanent closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems are installed at typhoon shelters by the Hong Kong Police Force, since 2017, the Marine Regional Crime Prevention Office has rolled out the Project Eyes initiative. Apart from disseminating information on crime prevention, the initiative also encourages fishermen, residents and vessel owners to install CCTVs in their coastal premises, shops or vessels to enhance security. At the same time, mutual support and assistance among neighbours are encouraged to prevent thefts from vessels, thefts of vessels, criminal damage and other maritime crimes.
     In addition, at high-risk times such as near the end of Lunar Year and during fishing moratoriums, festive periods and long weekends, the Police will strengthen publicity on crime prevention through distributing promotional leaflets, organising outreach seminars, etc. at locations including typhoon shelters, and villages along the coast and on outlying islands, with a view to raising the anti-theft awareness of the maritime community and citizens.
(6) On prevention, publicity and education, the Police proactively promote maritime crime prevention messages among stakeholders and residents of marine areas and outlying islands, and encourage the public to report crimes and join hands with the Police in combating maritime crimes. In 2022, the Marine Region has launched a crime prevention theme "MARPOL wish you SAFE", introduced the Ping On Family crime prevention mascots, and set up public social media pages and accounts to promote crime prevention messages. The Marine Region will continue to flexibly deploy resources to step up patrols and strengthen crime prevention education among the maritime community and residents of outlying islands.
Ends/Wednesday, November 2, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:12
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