Top Stories


    Jan 06, 2014

    Why people cry wolf to the police

    ONE woman wanted a day off work, another was simply too afraid to tell her family that she had lost her purse.

    Both made up stories that they were victims of theft, and went to the police with them. They were found out after the police noticed inconsistent details during investigations.

    The police issued 34 statements about false reports last year, as opposed to just 19 the year before and seven in 2011, in a bid to advise the public to not waste police resources.

    The actual yearly numbers of false-report cases are not known.

    The reasons for making fake claims varied, but most of the tales were of robbery and snatch theft.

    But in one case last January, a woman lodged a report with a foreign embassy here that she had been knocked unconscious and abducted in the vicinity of Yio Chu Kang that day. The police did not give further details on why she made such a claim.

    In another bizarre case in November, a 24-year-old man said that he was robbed of over $500 by a man wearing goggles, a wetsuit and toe shoes at Lower Seletar Reservoir Park.

    He claimed that the man jumped out of the water, stabbed him in the leg, robbed him, then leapt back into the reservoir.

    It was later discovered that he stabbed himself and staged the robbery, and that he was was suffering from home- and work-related stress.

    Counsellor Sheena Jebal from Nulife Counselling Centre, who has come across such cases, said that these people often turn to the police for fear of admitting their own mistakes, and end up in a bigger mess.

    Others appear to have been driven to desperation.

    According to the police, several made false police reports about their money being stolen in an attempt to keep loan sharks at bay. Others did so to delay returning borrowed money to their friends.

    Psychiatrist Munidasa Winslow, who specialises in addiction counselling, said that those addicted to gambling may not be thinking straight.

    "They do incredibly stupid things. Their values disappear, the only important thing is finding money to continue gambling," he said.

    He added that others who turn to the police with false complaints may also have not been in the right frame of mind.

    One man who claimed he had been robbed of his watch was found to have sold the watch to feed his gambling habit.

    A man who claimed that an armed robber took his personal documents had actually handed them over to another man and wanted them back.

    Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Melvin Yong stressed that all police reports will be treated seriously.

    The commander of Clementi Police Division added that stern action will be taken against such people who waste police resources that can otherwise be put to better use.

    Those who fake police reports may be slapped with a stint in jail.

    The offence carries a penalty of up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.