Published: 15 August 2016
Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is the general profile of youths caught for shop thefts; (b) what are the common reasons given by these youths for committing shop thefts; and (c) what are the targeted measures in place to address the root causes of shop thefts by youths.
1. 838 youths were arrested in 2015 for shop theft. 58% of those arrested were male and 74% were first-time offenders. The trend has remained roughly stable compared to previous years.
2. These youths may have committed shop theft for a variety of reasons. Some did it for material gains, while others were influenced by peers.
3. Youth crime, including shop theft, is a multi-faceted problem, and we need to tackle it on multiple fronts. Besides law enforcement agencies, schools, retailers, the social services sector, parents and youths themselves, all play a role in reducing youth crime.
4. The National Committee on Youth Guidance and Rehabilitation (NYGR) was established in 1995 as an inter-agency committee to reduce juvenile delinquency and youth crime. Since its formation, the Committee has supported several developmental, prevention and rehabilitation programmes to reach out and help youths-at-risk. For example, parenting programmes organised by schools, Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), grassroots organisations and community clubs help parents to discipline as well as instill the right values in their children.
5. Police have been working with schools to raise awareness among youths on the consequences of committing crime. These efforts include school talks, crime prevention exhibitions and Youth Engagement Programmes (YEP), which engage at-risk students through meaningful activities such as soccer leagues.
6. Police have also enhanced their crime prevention outreach using more interactive modes. One example is the installation of interactive touch-screen game panels at bus stops near youth congregation areas like the 'Scape' youth park, to spread anti-shop theft messages to our youths.