On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Join hands in trying to curb petty crimes

When a police report was lodged, the wallet was handed
over to the police.

The suspect, believed to be a drug addict, was known to the people in the
neighbourhood and had been blamed for a spate of minor crimes.

My colleague did not expect the police to go all out in search of this
small-time crook, but she was appalled by the response from our law

When making the report, the police told the two housemates to call them if they
happen to bump into the suspect in the area.

They were not given any assurance that efforts would be made to track down the
culprit, even if the chances of catching the suspect was small.

In another case, a businesswoman had lodged a report against a road bully. No
arrest was made despite the presence of onlookers and the identity of the
person clearly established.

Unhappy with the police for not taking action, she complained to the media. She
has been advised to write a letter to the editor and to the Inspector-General
of Police for the lacklustre response of the police.

Recently, a prominent Tan Sri told me that a friend whose car was stolen was
told by a policeman at the station that he should not bother reporting the loss
because the car "is probably in Thailand or Cambodia by now."

The public understands that the force is understaffed and, while efforts are
being made to boost the strength of the force, the meagre salaries are not
going to attract the best qualified people to sign up. And the promotion
criteria currently used by the force will not attract non-Malays to join its

When Canny Ong was found raped and murdered after being abducted from a
shopping complex car park, the public was incensed.

The case was quickly solved and the police must be commended for their speedy

But each day, hundreds, if not thousands, of criminal acts are committed
throughout the country.

It is this increase in minor crimes – such as break-ins, snatch thefts, car
thefts and extortion – that has become a favourite dinner topic.

It has even been described as a "sleeper issue," meaning it has become a
serious matter among voters but not spoken by politicians and those in power
but may have an impact on the outcome of the general election.

In urban parliamentary constituencies, MPs who heed the sentiments of their
voters would know exactly what I am talking about.

Recently, it was reported that there had been a sudden rise in armed robberies
– an increase of more than 30% in cases from last year.

Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said
that from January until June, 7,561armed robberies were reported compared to
5,764 last year.

Statistics released by the foundation show that armed gang robberies increased
by 24.32% followed by attempted murder with 23.53%.

Property-related offences increased 18.81% for thefts of lorries and vans, and
17.85%  for snatch thefts. Other crimes
on the rise are house break-ins and motorcycle thefts.

The over-worked policemen cannot be blamed if they channel their energies and
resources to fighting more serious crimes.

But the importance of fighting these small-time criminals, whose actions affect
ordinary folk the most, cannot be overlooked.

If the unhappiness of the people is overlooked, they would cast aspersions on
the force and the Government on the standard of security in the country.

While the Government attempts to increase the number of policemen, it should
consider deploying the Federal Field Force and Police Field Force to patrol the
streets, especially in commercial areas.

The presence of uniformed personnel would give the people a sense of security
as well as deter criminals.

Given the stability of this country, surely it would not be too taxing to use
these trained personnel on our streets for a certain length of time.

On our part, members of the public must learn to fight crime by taking
preventive steps to ensure we do not attract criminals.

It is still safe to walk in the streets, but be cautious because more snatch
thieves are now on the prowl.