2,000 recruits bolster force to tackle motorbike-riding thieves A series of robberies by motorbike-riding thieves has prompted Guangzhou's public security bureau to bolster its forces with an extra 2,000 officers this year. Other measures to curb the crime wave include setting up a 6,500-strong civilian security corps and assigning managers at rental housing complexes to monitor transient tenants, according to a Guangzhou Daily report. The police decision to boost its 25,000-strong force followed widespread media coverage of a worsening crime situation in Guangzhou in the wake of the Sars outbreak. Of particular concern are robberies committed by thieves working in pairs on motorcycles. Acting on complaints from the public, reporters from Southern Metropolis News staked out Teem Plaza, a shopping complex in Tianhe last month, and observed five thefts in 30 minutes. In another incident, a New Express reporter who pursued a thief was beaten up. Zhang Guifang, party secretary of the politics and law committee of Guangzhou, has rejected internet and media descriptions of Guangzhou as a paradise for criminals, but the municipal government held meetings in July and August to address the issue. Guangzhou Party Secretary Lin Shusen chaired a meeting on July 21 and called for the need to focus on the crime problem. On August 5, another meeting was held to lay out steps to be taken. Among the measures was a decision to increase the police force by 2,000 this year. Guangzhou's police force has grown by 1,000 officers annually in the past three years. In the next three years, it will be increased by 1,000 to 1,500 yearly. Other measures to be taken are deploying more officers on street patrol - which involves the reassignment of 30 per cent of non-patrol staff - and setting up a 6,500-strong civilian security corps. A manager will be assigned to every 100 to 120 rented houses to step up control of transient tenants, and the number of drug rehabilitation centres will be increased. Guangzhou police chief Zhu Suisheng said summer was normally the peak season for crime because thieves could easily remove personal belongings from people wearing light summer clothes. This year the crime rate was aggravated by the large number of people who lost their jobs because of Sars, and criminals taking advantage of the vacuum when the two-year Strike Hard anti-crime drive ended after the Spring Festival, Mr Zhu said. He also blamed lax regulation of motorcycles, saying more than half of crimes were committed by motorcyclists. From January to August, 11,781 robbery cases were solved and 12,725 suspects arrested. Guangzhou has only a third of the police of a similar city in a developed country but its force is comparable to that of Beijing and Shanghai. Guangzhou's problems are also largely blamed on its six million migrant population.