Tag Archives: crime in Ipoh

Crime in Ipoh – the perception and the reality

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Thinking Allowed

By Mariam Mokhtar

Crime in IpohAt the last monthly parade held at the police headquarters in Ipoh, the Chief Police Officer (CPO), Mohd Shukri Dahlan claimed that criminals were getting younger (Ipoh Echo July 1) and that 53.1 per cent, or 1681 of the 3166 cases reported between January and May 2013, had been solved.

This writer asked various Ipohites for their views on the remarks made by the Perak CPO. The contributors declined to be named, but one common theme emerged; people are worried about their safety, with their fears being heightened by the reports of criminal activities which appear in the national newspapers, on a daily basis.

Recently, we have been alarmed by news of crimes perpetrated by secret-societies, shootings, abductions, attacks on old people and the theft of drain covers which compromises people’s safety.

We are also disappointed that making a police report is just as stressful as the crime itself.

Mohd Shukri said that the snatch-thieves and drug traffickers were getting younger and were mostly teenagers or young adults. He urged both parents and members of the community to play their role in preventing these sorts of crimes.

What was the study that was conducted and what was the average age of the criminals then? What is the average age of the perpetrators now? Why are they getting younger?

The CPO described the various strategies adopted by the police to reduce the crime rate and said that they were designed to enable the rakyat to live safely. He mentioned programmes such as the Police Omnipresence Programme (POP) which included “High Profile Policing” (HPP), “Walk, Stop and Talk” (WST) and “Feet on the Street” (FOS).

Although the CPO was right to engage the help of parents and the community to help reduce crime, he is probably aware of the limitations placed on the public. He claimed that 53.1 per cent of cases had been solved, but this writer would like to know how this percentage, or crime index, was calculated. A more thorough breakdown of the statistics is needed.

Of the 3166 cases reported, what percentage could be categorised as violent or serious crime? Of the 1681 crimes which were solved, how many were from this category of ‘violent crime’? How many of the solved crimes were minor offences like littering or parking issues?

How many out of the 3,166 cases involved firearms, machetes or parangs? How many cases were classified as murder, rape, assault, sexual crimes or violence against women, children or the elderly? How many were domestic violence crimes? How many involved anti-social behaviour? How many were drug offences?

Did this total figure include cases such as littering, pick-pocketing or shoplifting? How many cases were of fraud or cheating? Did it include minor traffic offenses like double parking, going through a red light, driving without a seat belt, obstruction, overtaking on a double white line, failure to pay parking fines, driving a vehicle which is unroadworthy, or driving without a licence or insurance? How many of these cases were break-ins and of these, how many were on commercial premises or residential homes? Was anyone injured or killed?

It would be interesting for Ipohites to know the percentage of crimes which were solved with the help of the public. How successful was the public in assisting the police? Did they phone the confidential phone lines or was there enough media publicity for witnesses to come forward willingly?

Mohd Shukri may have mentioned the POP strategy, but many people are clueless as to what terms like HPP, WST and FOS actually mean. In which areas are these programmes available and how could they contribute to a reduction in crime? If there is no publicity about these plans, perhaps the police could do more to highlight them. Does POP involve routine checks on drivers to check for valid driving licences, or stop-searches on young men for weapons such as parangs?

Could the CPO say if CCTV played any role in the fight against crime and how much of the footage from CCTV was effective in solving crime?

Of the crimes committed, how many were done by repeat offenders? Is there a plan to rehabilitate former criminals and drug users, to integrate into society and are these successful? Are there seasonal trends for specific crimes? Is there racial profiling for certain crimes? With the economic downturn, has crime increased and if so, by how much?

There is a rise of gang culture in our schools and many teachers and parents are keen for the police and the various government departments to reach out to our youth. Are there adequate sporting facilities in schools and housing estates?

The reality of crime which the public has experienced differs from what the authorities would like us to believe. If public confidence is to be restored, there has to be more transparency and increased cooperation between the police, the community leaders and the public.

The Malaysian public is sometimes its own worst enemy. They want major improvements with minimal effort. If the police are to do their job properly and efficiently, the rakyat must engage with the police. The police have the manpower and the resources, but they and the criminal justice agencies, need to listen to the voice of the rakyat.

Not everyone can afford to live in a gated community and pay security guards to do the job of the police to protect their property and families. Moreover, if the police do not enforce the laws, people may form vigilante groups and this may soon lead to anarchy.

Criminals Getting Younger Says CPO

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The monthly parade by Perak’s Chief Police Officer, Dato’ Pahlawan Mohd Shukri  Dahlan, was held recently at the Perak Police Contingent Headquarters.

The parade started with the inspection of police personnel by the Police Chief and followed with a speech by him.

Criminals Getting Younger Says CPO

“We’ll continue to devise strategies to curb the crime rate for the rest of the year,” he said, “We’ll strive for a safer Malaysia with a low crime rate so citizens don’t have to live in fear.”

Mohd Shukri mentioned the various initiatives taken under the National Key Results Areas (NKRA) of the Government Transformation Progarmme. Among them are the Police Omnipresence Programme that encompasses ‘High Profile Policing’, ‘Walk, Stop and Talk’ and ‘Feet on the Street’.

The parade ended with the presentation of letters of commendation to officers from the police districts of Taiping and Kampar.

At the press conference that followed, the CPO mentioned that from January to May of this year, out of the 3166 cases reported statewide, 1681 were solved. The figure represented 53.1 per cent of the total number, an improvement over the standard set by NKRA.

He stressed on the role of parents and the community in preventing crimes such as snatch-theft and drug trafficking by teenagers and youths from happening. The perpetrators, he said, are becoming younger.

Lena

Just Another Day in Ipoh

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Thinking Allowed

By Mariam Mokhtar

At around 2pm one Friday, Amy decided to go to the car park at the Old Catholic Centre in Ipoh to leave a bag in her car. She slung the bag over the shoulder on which she was carrying her handbag, and left her office.

Nothing seemed amiss as she stepped off the pavement onto the slip road – a young man was walking along the road, another was sitting in his car. As a motorbike sped past, driven by a man in a black T-shirt, with a pillion-rider, wearing a green T-shirt, Amy continued on her way.

With people milling about, Amy felt safe. The area had recently seen a rise in theft and two women from nearby offices had been robbed at knifepoint, after work.

At the car park, Amy unlocked the rear passenger door and slid the bag off her shoulder to place in the car. As she removed the bigger bag, she felt a gentle tug on the strap of her handbag. She also heard someone mumbling. Amy turned around to find herself staring at the blade of a knife, held by a young boy, who appeared to be Malay. He was clad in dark trousers and a green T-shirt. He also wore a helmet.

He tugged again at her handbag. This time he barked, “Bagi saya wang!” He wrenched the handbag off Amy’s shoulder and ran away. The speed of the attack left Amy stunned and motionless.

Before she went to lodge a police report, Amy cancelled her credit cards and handphone. At the Sungai Senam police station (crimes in this particular area are covered by this police station), Amy noticed a young Malay girl waiting to report a theft. They swapped stories.

The Malay girl said that she had been in the Ladies’ toilet of the Ipoh Parade, around noon, when a young Malay-looking boy in a black T-shirt held her at knifepoint and demanded money. When she told him that she had none, he seized her handphone.

Having completed the police report, Amy was told to see the ‘A’ team. This meant a trip across town to the “A” team office, which is near the Ipoh Railway Station. The Malay girl whom Amy met earlier, was waiting to be seen.

As the Inspector whom Amy should have seen was busy, she had to discuss her ordeal with a policewoman. Amy asked about the necessity of making two reports, and was told that the preliminary report at Sungai Senam was only a brief report, the one compiled by the “A” team would be more detailed.

Amy requested a copy of the detailed police report, but was told that the report is “tak sah” (not valid) unless it was paid for. For unspecified reasons, the policewoman could not give Amy a receipt for her own copy of the police report, but advised Amy that she could obtain a copy from any police station.

The following morning, Amy went to the local police station, to obtain a copy of the police report. She was told that she should have obtained it the previous day, after making the report. Having heard Amy’s explanation, the policewoman on duty phoned the Sungai Senam police station for help with printing a copy of Amy’s report.

After paying RM2, Amy was issued with a receipt but she could still not get a printout because the clerical staff, who printed these reports, only works during office hours. Furthermore, the officer-in-charge who had access to the system and knew how to print the reports, was unavailable, so nobody could print one.

Amy said, “The mind simply boggles at the way reports are handled. I had to go to three police stations or visit the police station three times just to make a report and get a report.

“Why do we need to make two reports? No wonder the police do not have enough people on the streets when they spend their time doing reports.”

She claimed that she has never seen a policeman in the Greentown/Syuen Hotel/Excelsior Hotel area, which is reportedly high in crime. Many of her colleagues know of someone who has been robbed. One girl was pushed into a drain and her handbag snatched.

The previous day, the policewoman at the “A” team in Ipoh told Amy, “There are patrols but these guys are very smart. They attack only when the police patrol has passed.”

Amy wonders about the effectiveness of police cars and said, “They are just alerting these criminals to their presence or absence. I also have never seen police walking around the area. It looks like our police are only seen at roadblocks or on lonely roads near where I live, preying on poor motorcyclists”.

This is Amy’s second experience of being robbed. Her first was when her handbag was snatched in front of the Creative Music Academy, opposite Jusco and a police pondok. She is worried about the escalating crime, and does not think that the barriers which have been erected specially to deter snatch thieves are of any use.

She has a suggestion, “How difficult is it to use a policewoman as a decoy? The barriers won’t stop them. The money would have been better spent beefing up the police force.”

Many people will empathise with Amy. Despite her frustration and anger, Amy was pleased to note that the policemen were very nice to her. They showed concern that she wanted to have a printout of the report, “especially when she had to pay for it, too”.

It seems obvious that a victim of a crime would need a copy of a police report for several reasons. First: to keep a record of what happened. Second: a copy is needed to make an insurance claim. Third: if there was a breakthrough in the case, the thieves were caught or the items in Amy’s handbag were recovered, the report serves as proof of ownership.

Many newspaper reports claim that crime has decreased. If making a police report is a hassle and people decide against making them, many crimes may go unreported and the false figures would indicate an apparent decrease in crime.

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

 

Taman Kaya Syndrome

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

I would not call it as an act of desperation, but more appropriately, an inspiration. So what drives the residents of Taman Kaya to literally fence themselves in and turn their once idyllic “taman” into a garrison? Could safety be the consideration or is it the fear of the unknown? Both factors, coupled with a growing sense of despondency, compounded by the fact that the Police are too overstretched and under-manned, prompted the 65 households of Taman Kaya to do the unthinkable – keep strangers out and residents in.

Led by their Residents’ Association President, Augustine Anthony, they pooled their resources and engaged a contractor to build a guardhouse on the main arterial road leading into the housing estate and sealed off all the side roads, including its southern flank, marked by a bushy no-man’s land separating residents’ homes  from the adjacent army ammunition dump.  The 65 households, plus an additional three from neighbouring Taman Perak, have now assumed an envious station in life – members of a guarded neighbourhood right smack in Ipoh Garden East.

Taman Kaya, incidentally, is not in the best of locations, tactically speaking. It is hemmed in on all sides by houses, an ill-placed ammunition dump and the lumbering North-South Expressway. Its vulnerability is being amplified by the escalating number of break-ins, robberies, snatch thefts and extortions, occurring almost on a daily basis.

“One of the residents was threatened at gun-point recently,” said Augustine. “The audacity of the intruder is simply mind-blowing,” he added. That was the breaking point. “We’ve to do something before someone gets hurt. The authorities seem powerless to act.”

Augustine had led the residents through a number of face-offs with the authorities, especially Ipoh City Council and the Police. When the columbarium issue threatened to escalate into a full-blown battle between City Council and the developer, on one side and the residents, on the other, Augustine garnered enough support to force the council to reconsider its stance. Today what is left of the columbarium is an empty land overgrown with lalang, a stark reminder of an unpopular decision made in haste and in poor taste.

Ipoh Echo highlighted the plight of Taman Kaya residents who demonstrated their displeasure with the Police for their inaction in combating crimes recently. They picketed in the open and carried banners clamouring for police action. “Lawlessness is becoming a way of life for Ipohites and unless we send a clear message to those in authority, we’ll be in for a tough time,” said a forlorn Augustine. He seems determined to do whatever possible to correct the impropriety. “Two wrongs do not make a right,” he exclaimed, alluding to the famous English proverb.

The guard house, boom gate, chain-link fences and collapsible gates cost almost RM6,000. Four men are employed to keep the taman under surveillance 24 hours a day. The guards work in pair on a 12-hour shift. Motorists are provided car stickers to indicate their affiliation with Taman Kaya. On a lighter vein, could the name “Taman Kaya” be the reason why it is so attractive to burglars and the many unsavoury characters on the prowl? But the residents are ordinary folks with simple needs and tastes!

The 68 households pay RM60 each a month to keep their taman protected. “There was the initial resistance. But over time most began to appreciate the long-term benefits, so they acceded,” said Augustine.

The basis of consideration, according to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government’s guidelines, is that 51 per cent of households must agree to be guarded. “We’ve a situation where almost 97 per cent of the households consented,” said the Ipoh-based lawyer. The overwhelming response is indicative of the residents’ desire for a crime-free environment. This is the growing trend in Kuala Lumpur where guarded communities are becoming the in-thing today. Kota Damansara is a fine example. Security companies are cashing-in on the development much to the chagrin of residents. But do people have a choice?

However, a check with Ipoh City Council says otherwise. The mayor insists that Taman Kaya residents have contravened council’s by-laws. “Roads and lanes in housing estates should be accessible to people and vehicles,” said Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim. “Rubbish needs to be collected. In the event of a fire, how are firemen going to douse the flames?”  Building a guard house requires a permit, he said. “The residents’ association has 15 days to respond to the council’s letter.” Another face-off is in the offing. It is a ticking time bomb.

How Safe Is Safe?

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

We like to assume that thieves are opportunists who will wait for the right moment to strike. If this is your assumption, think again…

The assuring words of the state police chief and the mayor that criminal activities in Ipoh have nose-dived sound a little far-fetched. At the last city council full-board meeting the mayor went on record to say that since the installation of closed-circuit television cameras at crime-prone areas in the city, the crime rate had dwindled by almost 50 per cent. The comparison was made over a period of a year since the cameras were installed in 2010.

The number of cameras is relatively small thus the area covered is limited. You can see the gadgets at the round-about near the MB’s residence, the garden behind the MBI building and at the Polo Ground. Monitoring is done 24 hours a day by a team of council staff in a purpose-built room within the MBI complex.

The operator can zoom in and out of a target by a click of a mouse. Car thefts and bag snatchings are common, especially at Polo Ground. Catching those while in the act of committing a crime is possible with the use of these cameras. Recordings of their improprieties can also be obtained should criminal charges be preferred.

The council has also embarked on a project to enhance safety by building railings to separate pedestrians and motorcyclists. This is to prevent bag snatching from happening. One can see these railings at the Polo Ground, in Taman Cempaka and along the road fronting Stadium Perak. When the railings were first installed, motorists coming out of the stadium area onto the road complained that their view was blocked. So the council had some replaced with bollards. This short-sightedness is not only baffling but costly. Money for installing railings, mirrors, bollards and lighting incidentally comes from a RM1.5 million allocation from the Home Ministry.

On the issue of safety, the major grouse among Ipohites today is break-ins. No place seems to be safe now. My neighbourhood in Taman Tasek, Bercham is under siege, so to speak. The thieves are getting bolder by the day. One morning, I found a wooden ladder leaning snugly on my rear gate. I thought nothing of it until my wife came with a most unlikely story. She said that the palatial corner house was broken into during the night and some jewellery and cash were missing. The thief (or thieves) had scaled the wall and got into the house through the ceiling. The innocuous-looking ladder could be their tool. Soon the ladder became an object of conversation and many flocked to my backyard to have a look at it.

We like to assume that thieves are opportunists who will wait for the right moment to strike. If this is your assumption, think again. My next-door neighbour’s house was assailed by a lone crook who sneaked into the house while they were watching the 8.00 p.m. news. He bolted when the son went to the kitchen to get some drinking water. Another lost his wallet with RM1,000 cash in it and his handphone. The thief fished the items from his room when he was fast asleep. His bedroom windows were open.

Someone suggested forming a neighbourhood watch or Rukun Tetangga, like they did in the 70s. But when most are out eking a living, creating one is simply impossible. Engaging a security company to stand guard is desirous, but how many are prepared to contribute?

The responsibility, therefore, lies with the Police to safeguard the people. But how are they to perform when their resources are over-stretched? The Sungai Senam police station has only about 50 personnel and its area of responsibility covers Polo Ground, the stadiums, Fair Park and Canning Garden. Over 100,000 people reside in these areas alone. How is this motley band of officers going to keep crime in check?

So the next time the police chief and the mayor say that crime rates in Ipoh have gone down by a few notches, take it with a pinch of salt.