- Third quarter stats show improvement in crime rates
- Gamblers in city have been targeted by loan sharks
Macau’s Judiciary Police appear to be making progress in the city’s fight against illegal loan sharking and the unlawful detention of gamblers, after crimes of this nature spiked at the start of the year.
Figures for the third quarter show a decrease in cases involving unlawful detention and illegal money lending. Meanwhile, officials from the Asian casino haven attribute a slight overall rise in crime rates to the increased efforts by law enforcement to tackle offenders.
Loan sharking offenses peak in first quarter
At the start of the year, Macau’s booming gaming scene fell victim to a concerning trend – illegal loan sharking and gambler detention by criminal gangs.
These groups would lend money to desperate gamblers at extortionate interest rates, which could not always be paid back. The borrower, if unable to make payment, might be held against their will by these gang members, who would then contact family and friends of the gambler and demand money to settle their debt.
In May, Calvin Ayre reported on figures from the Macau Judiciary which showed an 18% increase in crimes of this nature during the first three months of 2017.
Over one hundred cases of unlawful detention were recorded during this period. These cases, along with an increase in attempts to pass off counterfeit currency or chips, contributed to a 15.2% rise in casino-relating crime during that first quarter.
Police get tough on casino crime
Macau’s authorities and casino operators have been working together to improve safety for Macau’s casino visitors. This includes a crackdown on gangs and individuals known to be carrying out loan sharking and holding players against their will.
So far, their efforts look to be working: between July and September, cases of unlawful detention fell by 18.8%.
Year-to-date figures show an overall decrease of 2.9% for unlawful detentions, and 8.6% for loan sharking. Though the rate of gaming-related crime has risen overall by a marginal 1.9%, Secretary of Security Wong Sio Chak says this is due to increased police activity and more efforts to arrest and charge offenders.
Casino district takes action against attacks
Casinos have established ‘special action teams’ who are trained in aiding gamblers with evacuation in the event of an attack.
The city’s operators will also join police, fire and medical services in a mass drill next year, which officials hope will help the city respond correctly if a terror attack or mass casualty incident occurs.
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