Crime index likely to go up: Malaysia's deputy home minister
The slowdown in the economy is likely to bring a rise in crimes of opportunity in the next two years.
The warning was made by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, who said the police and the community needed to be more vigilant against crimes such as snatch thefts and muggings.
"Although there has been success in reducing crime in these areas, the dampened state of the economy is likely to see a rise in crimes of opportunity in the next one or two years," he said when replying to a supplementary question by Datuk Noraini Ahmad Datuk Noraini Ahmad (BN-Parit Sulong).
Nur Jazlan said the police were aware of the possibility of a spike in crime and were taking steps to prepare for it.
"We are aware of the possibility if the economy takes a downturn. Steps are being taken to prepare for such an eventuality," he added.
Among the measures, he said, was to strengthen intelligence gathering to allow the police to take better preventive measures.
"We have identified possible hotspots, particularly in the major cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Baru for the purpose," he told The Star.
Also to be monitored, he added, were tourists spots as they might be considered areas for crimes of opportunity.
In an immediate reaction, former snatch theft victim Nancy Nais, 39, from Kuching, said: "Crime is something real which needs to be taken seriously and addressed by the Government. "It looks like we have to be more careful."
Nancy, a retail service manager, lost her handbag to a snatch thief while walking with her young daughter several years ago.
"I did not expect it because I was walking against the flow of traffic. Suddenly a motorcycle came from behind and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground with my daughter, who was two years old at the time," she said.
"My daughter took it badly and now whenever she sees someone on a motorcycle, she will say it is a bad person."
Nancy said Budget 2016 should include concrete measures to address the slowing economy and reduce the opportunity for crime.
"I hope the Budget can create jobs and help people who are facing retrenchment.
"Hopefully, the Budget can help to alleviate the rising cost of living," she said.
In Penang, Universiti Sains Malaysia Criminology Faculty Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy said data showed a spike in crime during the last two financial crisis.
The Malaysian crime index went up during the economic downturn in 1997 and 2008.
"The minister is right in this case," he said.