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Police think ‘Big’ in fight against petty crime

2014-03-31 12:38 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Yao Lan

Local police are turning to information technology to help them combat a rising tide of petty theft in the city.

At the heart of the latest crime-fighting campaign is the "Big Data" system set up by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau. Providing officers with up-to-date information about all manner of felonious activity — including the personal details of known offenders, a geographical breakdown of the city's crime hot spots and a log of stolen goods — the database has become an essential tool in keeping villains off the city's streets.

In the year through March 20, Shanghai police handled 2,440 pickpocketing and purse-snatching cases, more than double the amount in the first three months of 2013. The number of people detained in the period rose more than 17 percent to 1,086, many of whom were members of the more than 100 crime gangs cracked in the quarter.

A police officer told Shanghai Daily that while crime numbers had risen, the increase was mostly due to the fact that police now have better access to information and are investigating more cases.

The Big Data system has helped to crack dozens of petty theft cases in recent months, an area that has been of key interest to the city's police chiefs. Several successes were reported at a press conference last week.

In one case, four pregnant women and a child, who operated as a team, were apprehended on February 26 at a market in Fengxian District.

Police from Jiading District had been alerted to the group's activities on January 12 after a merchant at another market reported the theft of more than 18,000 yuan (US$2,900) and a cellphone. She said she recalled four women and a minor hanging around her stall and talking to her a lot shortly before the phone and cash went missing.

Following a monthlong investigation, police closed in on the group at a vegetable market in Fengxian. Before making the arrests, officers saw the women trying to distract a stall holder, while a child attempted to steal money from the victim's purse.

Once in custody, the gang confessed to eight similar thefts involving goods worth more than 100,000 yuan.

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