While the number of crimes committed in Shanghai rose last year from 2002, the number of major crimes committed fell, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau announced Thursday morning at its first news conference of the new year.
Police said about 37,000 crimes were reported in the city last year, an increase of 3.4 percent from 2002. But only 2,800 major crimes were reported, a decrease of 4.7 percent year-on-year, police said. They didn't define what they consider a major crime.
In spite of rising crime rates, police spokesman Cheng Jiulong insisted public safety in the city is improving.
"In 2003, the crackdown on traffic violators reduced congestion on the city's streets and the number of casualties from traffic accidents decreased, thanks to effective precautionary measures taken by the police," Cheng said.
"Learning from the heart-breaking fire tragedies at home and abroad, local authorities conducted safety inspections on densely populated areas such as metro stations, Internet bars, student dormitories and public bathrooms," Cheng added.
He said the number of fires in the city fell by 2.3 percent last year, but didn't provide detailed numbers.
He did boast, however, that there were no mass casualties resulting from fire in the city in 2003.
As usual at such press conferences, police highlighted several recently solved cases to prove the city is safe.
"For example, on December 16 we arrested two suspects who were involved in a series of thefts of Chinese paintings, and 11 stolen art treasures were recovered," Cheng said.
"Three days later on December 19, the Jiading District Public Security Bureau arrested 36 pickpockets and smashed six theft gangs. Then on Christmas morning local police captured a suspected drug ringleader with the help of their counterparts in Myanmar, seizing 9 kilograms of heroin."
The Shanghai Public Security Bureau announced a stepped-up drive against crime during the Spring Festival, which is traditionally a busy time for thieves and pickpockets, who tend to target migrant workers heading home with their savings from the year.
Police said that pickpocketing-related cases soared 16.1 percent last December, compared with the same period in 2002.
"Our goal is to beat back the rising trend as well as cracking more criminal cases. City police organs at all levels will go all out to ensure an orderly social environment for the public to observe the Chinese New Year holidays happily and peacefully," Chen said.
(Shanghai Daily January 9, 2004)