PJ: Gaming related crimes on rise

However, the Director of Judiciary Police says such cases usually occur on casino premises hence no harm to public security

Judiciary Police (PJ) Director Chau Wai Kuong (pictured centre) said that in 2015 the bureau opened files on 11,305 cases, a 5.3 per cent increase on 2014 when there were 10,737 cases. He was speaking during the annual briefing that took place yesterday at Judiciary Police headquarters in Avenida da Amizade.
The PJ head said the bureau had closed 10,354 cases last year, with 3,434 suspects handed to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, 807 people more or 30.7 per cent increase compared to the previous year.
Mr. Chau said that the phenomenon indicated that criminal activities here have become more rampant and complicated with the development of society.

Gaming-related crimes on the rise
With regard to gaming-related crimes, which the authorities describe as occurring on casino premises, some 3,658 cases came to their attention in 2015, a 21 per cent increase compared to 3,023 in 2014. The number was 2,599 and 2,070 in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Some 1,737 suspects were handed over to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
In addition, there were 366 cases of illegal detainment related to gambling, a drastic increase of 301 compared to the previous year. Loan sharking cases totalled 318, while 208 were recorded in 2014 and 16 in 2013.
Police attribute the increasing number of crimes related to gaming to ‘the adjustment period of the gaming industry’ as well as more effort in fighting such crimes by the police and more frequent visits to gaming venues.
However, the PJ head said that most of the cases were opened because the police took the initiative to investigate and most of the cases happened inside the casinos, hence there was no risk to social security outside the casinos. Mr. Chau pledged that the police will continue deploying police and enhance raids in order to suppress gaming-related crimes.

Anti-drug law revision to help
The number of drug related crimes decreased in 2015. Drug dealing cases totalled 85, a 17.5 per cent decrease year-on-year. Drug-taking cases totalled 51 with 107 suspects arrested. The numbers in 2014 were 114 cases and 160 suspects. However, the PJ head said it was not necessarily a good sign.
“The number of drug related crimes has decreased but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the battle against drug related crimes is really showing effects,” said Chau Wai Kuong. “On the contrary, we think that the cases are becoming more and more hidden. That’s why we think the revision of the anti-drug law will help the police in fighting drug related crimes, especially drug-taking.”
The PJ director also noted that an increasing number of Hong Kong residents were smuggling drugs, with local police already in contact with their counterparts from the neighbouring SAR in order to tackle the issue.

Fraud cases decrease
“In 2015, fraud cases decreased 13.8 per cent year-on-year, totalling 435 cases. Among them, telephone fraud cases were 164, a decrease of 33 per cent compared to 2014,” said Mr. Chau. “The bureau will continue strengthening regional police co-operation and exchange of intelligence in order to tackle fraud cases. ”
Analysing the cases from last year, the PJ head added that the most common practice of the conman is to pretend to be an official from the national authorities; such scenarios totalled 92 cases or 56 per cent of all phone fraud, also a drastic increase compared to 20 cases reported in 2014.
In 2015, the money involved that was reported by claimed victims was around MOP10 million. According to the police, most of the victims were women; 40 per cent of the victims were aged between 18 to 33 years old; around 90 per cent of them were Macau local residents, 1.2 per cent were Mainland residents, 1.2 per cent were from Hong Kong, and 2.4 per cent were from other countries and regions.

Better security
From the figures provided by the police, it seems that last year public security improved. Burglaries decreased 64 per cent to 62 cases. However, stolen property valued at over MOP200 million was reported, which is 21 times more than the previous year, and is mainly attributed to one case concerning missing art valued at over HK$200 million.
The PJ head added that one thing worth noting was that 40 per cent of the cases took place in the islands; that is to say Taipa and Coloane. The PJ director says the islands became the new hot spots in the past year, followed by NAPE and ZAPE areas, in the south eastern reclaimed landfill on Macau Peninsula. Other traditional Macau neighbourhoods, namely Horta e Costa, Three Lamps, Praca de Ponte e Horta, Rua da Praia do Manduco area and Barra recorded a decreasing number of burglaries for the second consecutive year.
In addition, the PJ director said that more than 70 per cent of the cases took place in buildings that have over eight floors. Reading the criminality pattern, burglars are targeting more high-rise buildings and act during the afternoon when homeowners are usually out. The police vow to deploy patrols accordingly in order to prevent such crimes from happening and enhance community help and neighbourhood watches.

No tolerance
Regarding the reported case of six police officers arrested for facilitating gambling by illegals, the PJ director said that since the case is still under investigation it was not appropriate to release any more information. But Chau Wai Kuong stressed that if any other police officer was found involved, there would be no tolerance and the law will be enforced.
Chau also remained silent on the Dore case saying that it is still under investigation and details remain confidential. Relevant information will be released in due time, said the PJ head.
Chau Wai Kuong added that the police are also suffering from the human resources shortage. He added that last year Macau welcomed more than 30 million visitors but the ratio between the number of police officers and the huge inflow of people was in imbalance. He said the Judiciary Police have many position openings but can hardly fill them. Currently, the bureau is recruiting 45 people. This year, the bureau plans to recruit 60 more. In addition, 82 people are undergoing training before being assigned and deployed.
The Judiciary Police also announced that they are improving their website and uploading more data in order to make them more informative and accessible for the public to enhance communication. The new website is expected to be launched this year.