Macau‘s overall crime rate fell in the first quarter of 2016 although there was a significant spike in some gaming-related crimes.
Macau Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak delivered the special administrative region’s latest crime statistics on Monday, which showed police filing a total of 3,333 criminal reports in the three months ending March 31, a 7.1% decrease over the same period last year.
While most subcategories of crime were also down, those related to gaming activities were on the up, a trend that has been building over the past year. Police investigated 368 gaming-related cases in Q1, 11.2% higher than in Q1 2015, while the number of suspects directed to the Public Prosecutor’s Office rose 17.5% to 424.
The number of ‘crimes against individuals’ was up 2.8% to 626. This category includes ‘illegal detention,’ which increased nearly one-third to 89 cases. Illegal detentions in Macau are traditionally associated with individuals being unable to repay gambling loans, leading the lenders to forcibly detain the debtors until they can contact a friend or relative to honor the debt.
Other potentially gaming-related crimes showed even stronger increases. Extortion and usury cases were up 73.3% and 55.9%, respectively, while robbery and theft cases declined.
The gaming-related numbers are up year-on-year but represented an improvement from Q4 2015. Nevertheless, officials said they would employ more targeted tactics to reduce future incidences of illegal imprisonment and usury.
As with previous reports, officials stressed that most of the gaming-related crimes continued to remain confined within casino boundaries, and thus the general public had little to fear from the rising numbers.