Channel NewsAsia

Singaporeans not target of crimes, says Johor police chief

Senior Deputy Commissioner Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said criminals are on the look out for opportunities, rather than specific nationalities.

JOHOR: Johor's police chief has sought to reassure Singaporeans travelling across the Causeway that they are not target of crimes in the Malaysian state.

Senior Deputy Commissioner Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said criminals are on the lookout for opportunities, rather than specific nationalities.

Speaking at a briefing in Iskandar on Thursday, he said the number of Singaporeans who were victims of crime in Johor fell last year, compared to 2012.

Crossing the Causeway for seafood and shopping has been a favourite pastime of Singaporeans for years.

With the booming development at Iskandar Malaysia, Singaporeans are now heading there for investment opportunities, and also for education and healthcare services.

Singapore was the largest foreign investor in Iskandar between 2006 and January this year - with some S$4.2 billion worth of investments flowing from Singapore into Iskandar, which is the main southern development corridor in Johor.

But observers said that security and safety needs to be stepped up as development in Iskandar takes off.

Johor police said they have invested heavily in security infrastructure, stepping up patrols and installing 500 CCTV cameras around the state. There are also plans to install 1,000 more CCTV cameras, as well as deploying auxiliary officers.

They said as a result, crime fell by 35 per cent last year, compared to 2012.

However, concerns that Singaporeans are easy targets for crime persist.

Official data shows that 17 million trips were made by Singaporeans into Johor last year. But only 397 cases of crime were reported by Singaporeans, compared to 466 in 2012.

Police also said action has been taken against three syndicates that targeted Singaporeans in a "scratch-and-win" scam.

Senior Deputy Commissioner Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said: "Quite a number of them have been detained. These scratch-and-win scammers are nuisance, they are also parasites. But please don't be gullible, people promise the sky. You, yourself have to ensure you don't fall victim to the prey. On our part, we have identified and crippled the syndicates."

One of the other issues that the Johor police chief acknowledged was the police's need to step up its online presence to nip misinformation in the bud, especially after reports emerged of a kidnapping at the Legoland theme park.

Police said areas in Johor frequented by Singaporeans have been identified, and police presence has been stepped up in those areas. 

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