Bank robberies on the rise as criminals seek quick cash

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 July, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 July, 2002, 12:00am

The number of bank robberies in Hong Kong nearly doubled in the first half of this year amid an overall increase in 'quick cash crimes' and deception cases.

Police said the increases could be due in part to the economic downturn, which has seen unemployment rise to a record 7.4 per cent, but stressed there was no evidence of a rise in the number of jobless offenders.

Total crime rose by 2.4 per cent to 36,894 cases in the first half of the year, up from 36,034 in same period last year, but the arrest rate was down from 43.1 to 42.5 per cent.

Robberies rose by 13.2 per cent, from 1,528 to 1,730, while cases of bag snatching in the street increased by 22.4 per cent from 384 to 470 cases.

The number of bank robberies rose from 13 in the first six months of last year to 23 cases this year. The number of robberies using fake firearms rose from 26 to 31. There was only one robbery involving a genuine pistol.

Deception cases were up a quarter from 1,911 to 2,396 cases. Many were committed by mainland two-way permit holders.

Police said that despite the increases, Hong Kong's crime trend was 'steady' and the city remained one of the world's safest.

Chau Foo-cheong, director of crimes and security for Hong Kong police, said the unemployed should not be blamed for the increase in crime. He expected the trend to remain unchanged in the second half of the year.

'There was a slight increase in quick cash crimes. The economy might have a small impact on that. But overall, we haven't seen any significant changes in the number of unemployed arrested for these crimes,' he said.

In other crime categories, murder cases rose from 28 to 31, with half resulting from family disputes. Nine children were killed.

Serious drug offences dropped 11.4 per cent, while youth arrests for drug-related offences were down 34 per cent, to 273.