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Eleazar: No upsurge in crime vs property during pandemic but public must remain vigilant

JOINT Task Force COVID-19 Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar had maintained there is no upsurge in crimes against property despite the economic woes triggered by the pandemic but just the same called on the citizenry to maintain their vigilance in reporting criminals who will take advantage of the situation to victimize targets in the streets.

He specifically pointed to thieves and robbers who, in the guise of fully complying with health protocols, may use face masks and shields to fully conceal their identities once they attack a prey in public.

Despite the decrease in crimes against property, Lt. Gen. Eleazar urged the public to remain vigilant against criminal elements that take advantage of mandatory wearing of face masks to pull off robbery and other criminal activities.

According to him, some criminals see the implementation of minimum health safety standard protocol that include wearing of face masks and helmets for motorcycle riders as a good opportunity to conceal their identities and prey on some business establishments that are allowed to operate and workers who are allowed to travel in the time of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“These criminal elements should be continuously denied the opportunity to strike. While your Philippine National Police (PNP) is doing well in maintaining peace and order since the start of the community quarantine implementation, we believe that the crime incidents can be further reduced to insignificant level if the people down to the barangay levels would cooperate,” the official said.

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield yesterday said it has not recorded an upsurge of theft, robbery and other crimes against property amid the economic hardships brought by the pandemic which particularly caused thousands to lose their jobs since last April.

Eleazar said they recorded a 62 percent to 70 percent reduction on four focus crimes relating to crime against property—theft, robbery, carnapping of motorcycles and carnapping of motor vehicles—since the start of the community quarantine on March 17.

Based on the JTF COVID Shield data, cases of theft were down by 62 percent from March 17 to August 16 while robbery cases were reduced by 63 percent during the entire 153 days of community quarantine compared to the 153-day period before the March 17 community quarantine implementation, or from October 16 to March 16.

Cases of carnapping of motorcycles were reduced by 69 percent while cases of carnapping of motor vehicles went down by 70 percent.

Overall Eleazar said the crime incidents across the country decreased by 49 percent during the entire community quarantine period.

“We attribute the big-time reduction of criminal incidents to the high police visibility from the border control checkpoints or the Quarantine Control Points (QCPs) down to the communities through implementation of beat patrol and curfew, as well as the cooperation of the Local Government Units (LGUs,” he said.

In coordination with PNP chief, General Archie Francisco Gamboa, Eleazar said they also improved the reporting system of COVID-related concerns and criminal activities by coming up with 24/7 hotlines where the people could call and seek assistance.

The official said they also initiated the designation of police Quarantine Rules Supervisors (QRS) who were tasked to supervise the barangay tanod not only in implementing the quarantine rules but also in maintaining peace and order in the more than 42,000 barangays in the country.