By Lee Hyo-sik
Murder, rape, robbery and other violent crimes are climbing higher.
The National Police Agency (NPA) said Thursday that the number of crimes committed in 2009 across the country totaled 2.02 million, down 2.1 percent from 2.06 million a year earlier. However, five types of violent crime — murder, robbery, rape, theft and violence — jumped 8.4 percent to 590,087 last year from 544,527 in 2008.
The number of murders soared 24 percent to 1,374 nationwide over the one-year period, while robberies surged 32 percent to 6,351.
The number of burglaries reached 256,423, up 15 percent from 2008, with rape and other sex crimes rising 6.4 percent to 18,351.
The rapid jump in cases of violent crimes came even after the NPA introduced a performance-based payment system for police officers to encourage them to work harder to prevent crimes and apprehend more criminals.
“We are making every effort to prevent sexual assaults against women and children, but heinous crimes appear to be rising” a police officer said.
Murders occurred most frequently from July through September when the weather was hot and humid. Robberies took place most often in May.
With the Korean economy tanking, the number of fraud, embezzlement and other white collar crimes grew 10 percent to 290,873 from 2008.
Among white collar crimes, fraud totaled 221,897, followed by embezzlement at 26,626, credit-and auction-related offenses at 16,124 and breach of trust at 6,216.
The NPA’s white paper also reported that police apprehended 2.33 million criminals across the nation in 2009. Of the 2.33 million, 448,420 committed crimes “by accident,” accounting for 19.2 percent of the total.
About 1.11 million were repeat offenders, with 380,130 criminals arrested for committing the same crime. In particular, violent crimes showed high rates of recidivism. Around 62.5 percent of murders were committed by repeat offenders.
The recidivism rates for robbery, arson, violence, theft and rape stood at 64.7 percent, 65.7 percent, 54 percent, 50 percent and 47.9 percent, respectively, indicating a more effective rehabilitation program should be introduced for violent criminals while they are in jail to stop them from repeating offenses.
To cope with the growing cases of violent crimes, police said they had implemented a range of measures last year to boost public safety by expanding the number of police stations and have more police officers patrol crime-prone areas.