More young people stealing, carrying weapons
More young people have been caught stealing from shops and carrying dangerous weapons in the first half of this year.
According to mid-year crime statistics released by the police, 317 young people were arrested for shop theft from January to June, an increase of 10 cases from the same period in 2016.
There were also 47 cases of young people arrested for carrying dangerous weapons, up from 30 cases in the same period last year.
Despite the worrying trend, overall youth crime appears to be on the decline, as the number of young people arrested in the first half of the year fell by 14.2 per cent from last year to 1,279 cases.
But the police are still concerned with the rising trend of shop theft and the carrying of dangerous weapons such as knuckle dusters, and have stepped up engagement with young people during the September school holidays.
Community Policing Unit (CPU) officers have engaged more than 4,000 young people from Aug 14 to 28, in areas that they frequent such as shopping malls, street soccer courts, basketball courts and parks.
Dr Carol Balhetchet, a clinical psychologist, said a possible explanation for the persistent figures for shop theft committed by youth is the rising materialism in Singapore.
"There are malls everywhere, and as materialism goes up, it is expected that shop theft goes up," she said.
"Youth hang about in groups in the malls often, and if they see something nice they can't buy, they might steal it."
As for the increase in young people carrying dangerous weapons, Dr Balhetchet said it is a trend that may not go away. "They feel empowered with weapons and doing things to look gung-ho. There is likely some form of competition they are facing, and they want to be one up on each other and be seen as intimidating," she said.
Police are also working closely with schools to widen their outreach, and have issued crime advisories to them for dissemination to students.
They said they will continue to engage and educate youth on the consequences of crime, and to advise them to steer clear of it.