Thursday, November 12, 2009

Loan sharks harrass neighbours into becoming runners

I wrote about the high rates of arrest for the runners earlier (see urbanrant blog post), but we seem to hear very little about the actual mastermind being arrested or sentenced.

From Straits Times forum:

Neighbour told to act as loan-shark runner

EARLY this week, my front door and gate were splashed with red paint when no one was at home. The unit number of a flat below my level and two telephone numbers were scrawled on the wall of the staircase landing.

I called one of the numbers and a loan shark told me he committed the acts because the debtor had provoked him when he threatened to harass the neighbouring units. He then asked me to get the debtor to pay up or else the harassment would continue. In other words, he expected me to be his runner!

I made a police report and the officers also took a statement from the debtor in the other unit.

According to her, her husband's friend had borrowed from the loan shark, using her husband's identity card. She told the loan shark to 'do what you like' as her husband's friend was the one who had borrowed the money.

She had also made several police reports when red paint was splashed on her immediate neighbours' front doors and gates.

If the police had been informed of such harassment in our block, I wonder why patrols have not been stepped up to nab the culprits.

Sightings of policemen making their rounds are rare in this vicinity, despite the numerous police reports. We should not be surprised that the thugs are getting bolder and more blatant as they now target flats above the debtor's unit.

Furthermore, who is liable for the cost of cleaning up this vandalism?

Josephine Tay (Mdm)

This forum letter highlights to severity of this loan-sharking epidemic. From the letter, I can gather the following:

Innocent neighbours were harassed in order to ensure the ‘actual’ borrower pay money. This means that totally innocent Singaporeans and PRs are now ‘recruited’ by this very brave loan sharks to do their bad deed.

In this particular case, the motive of the harassment was made clear to the victim. There is an audacity to get the victim to call a mobile phone number left behind by the perpetrators. This is an outright inducement to commit crime.

Reports were made to the police by both the innocent victim as well as by the family of the person whose IC was used to obtain the loan. What have the police done?

It is clear that there is a string of leads for the police to follow up?

I can count the following:

  • The phone number left behind by the loan sharks. This number works and the victim actually spoke to the loan shark.

  • There is the identity of the ‘borrower’. There is a fair assumption that the borrower knows the friend who borrowed the money. This friend must have known how to contact the loan sharks.

  • The crime scene. The crime of vandalism at both homes will give some evidence of the tactics, materials used.

  • This is a target for the loan sharks to come back for future harassment. A stake-out is necessary but has it been carried out. In the forum letter, apparently, there were already several attacks and several police reports made.

Can we count on you to save us from the clutches of the ever-more menacing loan sharks? Will the audacity of the loan sharks grow as they deploy more ways to get innocent victims to do their dirty work? Should we start a citizen vigilante who will band together at every block, armed with brooms, pans, woks and cleavers, to chase down anyone with a pail of paint.

So the obvious is to ask the OBVIOUS question again: what now, police? Please act, before it gets out of hand.


Anonymous said...

I had never submitted a forum before as I had heard people getting into trouble for submitting forum. However, I believed I must do something as I am a recent victim of loanshark harrassment. And a lot of things fustrated me alot. So I hope the media could help pressure the government into putting out loanshark activities in Singapore.

I am a victim of loanshark harassment after we bought a resale flat from the outside market. Merely a month after we got the key to the flat, loanshark came and harrassed. We are surprised as we did consulted the neighbour before deciding to buy. Although the previous owner admitted to borrowing from loanshark and accompany us to the police station to make a report, but the action of the police seems to show me that the borrower is not committing a crime. I am surprise by this as the borrower is the whole cause of the episode. The borrower is the cause of us being the victim of loanshark harrassment, why is that not a crime? Further more, I understand that they still had not change their address and they can still borrow from loanshark using my new address. Which is very unfair to us. When would the nightmare ends.

I am not sure if it is feasible but I hope that in future, HDB would rule that sellers of resale HDB flats are to change their address (including all occupants) before the completion of the resale (before HDB second appointment). If they still could not find a fix address, they may change their address to a post office, police station, shelter, home or community centre (I dont think anyone is so daring to harrassed such places as there will have people there almost 24 hrs a day). Alternatively, the police may grant HDB permission to cancel the sellers and previous occupant’s address in their NRIC using permanent markers upon completion of the resale. At least by doing so, they could not continue to use our address to borrow from loanshark. I believed that I spend so much to buy a property, the address also belongs to me. They are not supposed to use my address anymore.

I believed that the cause of loanshark surging is because borrowers are seems to be protected by the law. So people would not hesitate to borrow from loanshark as they would not be prosecuted. When borrowers increase, so would loanshark activities (demand up, supply up, demand down, supply down). If the borrowers are considered criminals, then the borrowers would not be so daring to borrow from loanshark and push the future harrassment to innocent victims as they will be in trouble then.
I believed that by making it illegal to borrow from loanshark, innocent victims might be spared as borrower himself would want to keep a low profile and would try not to victimise other innocent people (in my case). As for the loanshark, they might not want to harrass innocent neighbours as they would report it to the police and when the borrower is arrested and put behind bars, there would have noone to pay the loan. This may be my wishful thinking but I really hope Singapore can one day be free from loanshark harassment (especially to innocent victim like me).

Anonymous said...

i am too a victim of loanshark harrassment. I too buy a resale HDB flat from open market and loanshark came and harrassed us after we moved in not long. It was the previous owner who borrowed and he has admitted to Police. I was shock to know that the police cannot charge him for borrowing from loanshark. I had been reporting to the police since the first harrassment on june 2010 but till now they still came even the police has install cctv at my house. The police cctv ever caught the loanshark runners spray paint at my house but they still investigation and said the runners might not be local. i am feeling so sad and disappointed with Singapore Police Force.

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