Hong Kong bus needle incidents show media should be careful not to inspire copycat crime
I refer to your July 13 report on pins found on a New World First Bus vehicle on Hong Kong Island, after at least 13 reports of needles found on KMB vehicles since June 27.
Pins were first found on the seats of KMB buses in late June, resulting in injuries to two people. After that, similar cases keep happening, even after the arrest of a suspect. Moreover, the incidents were reported in different districts, which suggests there may be more than one person involved in this dangerous and harmful action.
According to the theory of imitation presented by the 19th century French criminologist Gabriel Tarde, all important actions and phenomena in social life come from imitation, including criminal behaviour. There is a high chance that, following the first perpetrator, all the others were engaging in imitation, perhaps based on information from media reports.
Media, including internet and TV, is the most effective way to deliver public messages. Their reports on these criminal cases could make passengers more aware and they would be more careful to check for any pins or needles before taking a seat. Public safety would be protected.
However, media reports could also inadvertently inspire copycat crimes, as those so inclined might come to know the detailed modus operandi and employ them. Therefore, I believe media or police reports targeted at the public should avoid giving out too many details of the methods used by the perpetrator.
Anny Lin, Tseung Kwan O