Fewer burglaries and robberies due to better policing and prevention The number of so-called quick-cash crimes, such as robbery and burglary, fell last year for the first time in a decade. Such crimes fell to 2,237 last year from 3,215 in 2003 - a 30.4 per cent drop, police records show. The 1994-2003 10-year average was 3,891. There was a total of 7,002 burglaries last year, a drop of 2,074 cases - or 22.9 per cent - compared with 2003. The average over 1994-2003 was 9,971 burglaries a year. Police commissioner Dick Lee Ming-kwai said yesterday there were several reasons for the falling rate. 'I must congratulate our frontline colleagues because their work has proved effective,' he said. 'Every year we ask our frontline officers to focus their resources to tackle these crimes and we feel it is working.' The police chief felt education on prevention of such crimes had been successful. Past experience had also shown the number of quick-cash crimes would fall when the economy improved. Although last year witnessed an 8 per cent drop in the overall crime number - from 88,377 crimes to 81,215 - there was an increase in categories such as rape and domestic violence. The number of reported rapes rose to 92 last year compared to 70 in 2003. There are usually between 90 and 100 rape cases in Hong Kong each year. The police commissioner said the victims in most cases - 80 out of 92 - knew their attackers. Of the rapists, 42 were friends, 15 were relatives and 12 were employers or employees. Mr Lee said it was worrying that 11 of the victims were raped when visiting their attackers' home after having just met them that day, and added that police would liaise with social organisations on ways to raise the public's awareness about protecting themselves. The number of domestic violence cases - including assault, intimidation and sexual attacks - jumped from 799 in 2003 to 903 last year. The police are fine-tuning their computer software update, which is designed to provide officers handling domestic violence cases with records of previous domestic violence related to the same person. This would help officers identify high-risk situations. No schedule has been set for its implementation, although the update was originally proposed for this month. Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Gordon Fung Siu-yuen said the government had lifted the hiring freeze on the force for 15 months as the police had been losing between 750 and 800 officers a year. They are looking to recruit 950 officers to fill vacancies. The initial batch of 10 inspectors and 150 constables is set to begin training later this month. Mr Fung said the force hoped to launch classes for new officers every two months and would review the manpower situation and apply for more hiring if needed.