Criminals infiltrating residents’ chat groups

Yii (seated, centre) and residents showing the crime prevention stickers that will be distributed.

MIRI: Residents association (RA) committees set up chat groups on social media to share information about their neighbourhood activities but a few committees in Miri have shockingly discovered that criminals are infiltrating these chat groups.

It is learned that robbers and burglars are making use of information obtained from these chat groups to target victims.

The issue was brought up at a meeting between Miri mayor Adam Yii and RA committees at the city council yesterday.

“There are 14 such committees in Miri city, with hundreds of members each.

“They are setting up chat groups in their respective neighbourhoods to share information about their activities,” said Yii.

He said the information shared included gotong-royong projects, landscaping ideas and cleanliness campaigns, besides details such as neighbourhood patrolling schedules, who were always not at home and so on.

“It has been found that crooks have infiltrated these chat groups and used the information to target victims,” he elaborated.

Yii said to protect residents, the city council and RA committees would start carry out an exercise to formally register every member of these residents’ chat groups.

“Those who want to be in these chat groups are required to register using their MyKad.

“The police will vet through their identity to filter out known or possible criminals,” he told a press conference after the meeting.

He said there would be stricter measures to ensure that information on neighbourhood activities and residents do not end up in the wrong hands.

He disclosed that the police would be included in all these chat groups.

“These chat groups will comprise not just residents but also our councillors, police, Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation to deal with blackouts and the water authorities to deal with watersupply woes.

“These chat groups will serve a comprehensive purpose for our Miri society,” he added.

At the meeting, the local council distributed crime prevention stickers urging the people to be more proactive in crime prevention.

Meanwhile, voluntary patrol leader for Rukun Tetangga Pujut in Miri City, Mat Leteh Mohamad said there was a need to be more cautious with information shared in chat groups.

“If a resident wants patrols to be carried out near their house, they should call the patrol team members directly instead of posting every detail in the chat group.

“It will be risky for them to disclose publicly details of their exact location, when they are leaving for vacation, that they are alone in their house at what particular time or that they are living in an isolated location. That will make them vulnerable since such information will attract those with ill intentions.

“There is a need to have a stricter code on what should and should not be put in these residents’ chat groups,” he noted.

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