Mainland tourists not a problem, but two-way permit-holders are, the security chief says The number of crimes reported in the first 10 months of the year has surged by 17.3 per cent, with much of the increase accounted for by a big increase in thefts. Speaking yesterday after a meeting with the Fight Crime Committee, Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said there had been a surge in quick-cash offences. Theft cases from January to October rose by 30.1 per cent, from 26,276 in 2002 to 34,181 this year. Cases of pickpocketing rose by 93 per cent, to 1,320 cases, shop thefts rose by 13.3 per cent to 7,695 cases, and thefts from vehicles were up by 68 per cent. Overall crime rose from 63,045 cases in the first 10 months of 2002, to 73,938 during the same period this year. Violent crime edged up 2.3 per cent, to 12,155 cases. However, there were dramatic falls in the numbers of homicide and rape cases - of 19.6 per cent and 29.3 per cent respectively. Robberies also declined by 9.8 per cent. The continuing surge in crime comes as the police service is facing possible manpower shortages amid the government's attempt to rein in the budget deficit. The increase in overall crime was mirrored by an increase of 15.5 per cent in the number of arrests of mainlanders, to 2,313. Of those, 566 were of illegal immigrants and 1,747 of visitors under official documentation. Mr Lee said the rise in arrests of mainlanders was in line with overall increases in visitors from over the border. 'We find that mainland tourists coming to Hong Kong under the individual travel scheme are very well-behaved, and the crime rate from this group is very low,' he said. 'However, mainlanders coming to Hong Kong on two-way permits have a higher tendency to commit an offence,' he said. The police and the Immigration Department had already contacted mainland law enforcement agencies to consider ways of tackling the problem. Most offences committed by mainlanders were minor thefts, Mr Lee added. The number of reported cyber-crime cases more than doubled in the last six months, rising by 162 cases, or 119 per cent. 'They are mainly related to hacker attacks on internet sites, mostly committed by youngsters out of habit,' said Philemon Choi Yuen-wan, a member of the Fight Crime Committee and also the chairman for the Commission on Youth. Criminal damage cases rose by 25 per cent, to 6,383, from 5,100 a year ago. A total of 132,508 Ecstasy-type tablets were seized, up 51.8 per cent from the 87,296 tablets found last year. The quantity of cannabis seized rose by 61.9 per cent, from 352 kg to 570kg. Police have arrested two people in connection with the seizure of suspected ketamine and Ecstasy tablets worth $580,000.