The Secretary for Security, Mr Wong Sio Chak, today said Macao’s crime-case statistics recorded by the police in the first quarter of 2023 were still at a level lower overall than in first-quarter 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic. This was despite the latest figures showing a slight increase judged year-on-year.
At a press briefing to announce the quarterly crime figures and enforcement statistics, Secretary Wong said that first-quarter fraud cases and cases related to the use of the Internet however registered significant growth when compared to the corresponding period in 2019.
The police had analysed the characteristics and changing trends of such forms of crime. They had adjusted their law enforcement strategies in a targeted manner, handling such forms of crime with a three-pronged approach, i.e., ‘prevention’, ‘targeting of criminals’, and ‘recovery’.
In the first three months of 2023, the police had recorded a total of 3,006 crime cases, representing a 17.2-percent increase – or 441 more cases – than in the same period in 2022. Compared to the pre-pandemic level of first-quarter 2019, the first-quarter 2023 number saw a drop of 10.6 percent, or 358 fewer cases.
Following the return this year of travel conditions to pre-pandemic form for movement in and out of Macao and neighbouring areas, Macao had seen a rapid recovery in the number of inbound tourists, spurring the gradual recovery of the local economy. Since, because of that, a number of conditions had changed in Macao relative to 2022, the relevant numbers from 2019 were also being offered for comparison, in order accurately to reflect the security situation and criminal activity trends in Macao.
Across the first three months of 2023, reported crimes against the person showed a year-on-year increase of 2.3 percent, but a 0.7-percent reduction compared to the corresponding number in first-quarter 2019.
Crimes against property saw a year-on-year increase of 33.2 percent in the first quarter, but a 16.2-percent decrease from 2019’s number.
In the category of crimes against life in society, the tally represented a 33.3-percent increase year-on-year. When compared to first-quarter 2019’s number, the latest data represented a 17.7-percent decrease. Reported crimes against the territory went up by 39.8 percent, but were down 30.5 percent compared to first-quarter 2019.
Crimes outside the above categories recorded a 19.4-percent decrease year-on-year, and a 26.8-percent increase compared to the same period of 2019.
Across the first three months of 2023, there was an aggregate of 62 cases of violent crime reported to the police. The tally represented a 44.2-percent increase year-on-year, but a 60.8-percent drop from first-quarter 2019. The most serious forms of violent crime – such as kidnapping, murder, and aggravated assault – were either at zero level or continued to be extremely rare in Macao.
Speaking in today’s press briefing, Mr Wong said there were 435 fraud cases reported to the police in the first quarter of this year. The number was higher than the corresponding periods of 2022 and 2019 respectively.
To help victims either reduce or recover their losses in fraud cases, the police had – together with the local banking industry and neighbouring police authorities – continued to adopt measures either to suppress remittances of a suspect nature, or to urgently stop payment processes. From January to March this year, in a total of 168 cases involving more than 54 million patacas, payment had either been prevented or the payment process terminated.
Mr Wong said gaming-related crimes in the first three months of 2023 showed an increase compared to the corresponding number in 2022. It was believed that was linked to the increase in visitors to Macao, with some people seeking to take advantage of the recovery in the gaming industry. Via police deployment and stepped-up enforcement effort, the total number of gambling-related crimes in the first quarter of this year was still lower than during 2019’s pre-pandemic first quarter. The latest tally was also lower than in the same period in 2020 and in 2021, when epidemic conditions were prevailing locally.
The security authorities would continue to monitor closely any possible change in local security conditions, in light of the growing number of inbound travellers, and the Government’s enhanced effort for economic recovery. The security authorities would do this while also enhancing routes to promote anti-crime messages to the community, and strengthening overall capability for collection of intelligence and liaison with counterparts within the region. These steps were in order to combat effectively any criminal activity, and safeguard the security and prosperity of Macao society, stated Mr Wong.