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Police: Online scams, drugs dominated rise in Hong Kong crimes in 2021

Police: Online scams, drugs dominated rise in Hong Kong crimes in 2021
Hong Kong Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu Chak-yee (L) arrives at a press conference about the crime and police work in the city. Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Hong Kong police on Thursday reported an increase in online scams last year, including a 24% rise in fraud cases, of which 70% of happened over the internet.

Overall, Hong Kong saw a total of 64,428 crimes in 2021, a 1.9% increase over 2020, according to data published by the Hong Kong Police Force.

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Officials blamed the overall rise in crime on a large number of fraud cases -- an increase of more than 3,000 -- as well as increases in homicide, rape, extortion and police-initiated crimes such as drug offenses, among others.

The huge number of fraud cases was driven by part-time girlfriends, online dating, investment and job-seeking scams, among other schemes, officials reported.

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Police said the number of violent crimes increased by 2.1% in 2021, a 196-crime increase, to 9,587.

On the upside, however, police reported that robberies and burglaries declined by 53% and 30%, respectively.

Hong Kong also saw declines in burglary, arson and theft, in addition to ten-year-lows for looting and pickpocketing.

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"The police will continue to strengthen intelligence collection, actively use different media and activities to enhance the public's awareness and resilience to local terrorism and self-aggrandizing behaviors and encourage citizens to make reports," police officials said in a press release.

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Child abuse cases jumped by 60% during the year, to 1,232 cases in 2021 from 463 in 2020, and the number of drug crimes increased to 1,570 in 2021 from 1,149 the year before.

The amount of drugs that were confiscated also saw a large increase, with confiscations of MDMA -- commonly known as ecstasy or Molly -- jumping to 62,000 in 2021 from 5,900 in 2020, the Standard reported.

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Some crimes reported in 2021 involve a the Child's Residential Home in Mong Kok, a residential and shopping district in Hong Kong, where police commissioner Raymond Siu Chak-yee said five more police officers will join a 21-man team reviewing video footage from the home.

Police said they hope to complete investigations within a month.

"We will step up our efforts on intelligence and we urge the public to report to us any suspicious people or activities," Siu said.

Police have also arrested 162 people for violating the controversial National Security Law. Over 100 have been prosecuted so far, officials said.

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