Sharp Increase In Number Of Incidents Of Robbery And Theft Against Ships In Singapore Strait

From 2019 through 2020, there is a sharp increase in the number of incidents of robbery and theft against ships while underway in the Singapore Strait (SS), compared to the period of 2016-2018. In 2019, 31 incidents were reported, and 33 incidents were reported in 2020 as of 20 Nov. The number of incidents during January-November 2020 accounts for an increase of 43% compared to January-November 2019 (23 incidents).

singapore anchorage
Representation Image – Photograph by GP

Although the majority of the 33 incidents reported during January-November 2020 were at a low level of severity [CAT 4 incidents where the perpetrators were not armed and the crew not harmed], the ReCAAP ISC is seriously concerned with the continued occurrence of incidents in the SS. In some incidents, perpetrators were persistent in committing crimes by boarding two ships in a row within a short interval and in close proximity.

Without the arrest of perpetrators, incidents are likely to continue to occur. We remind that the incidents in SS decreased significantly from 99 incidents in 2015 to two incidents in 2016, thanks to the arrests of perpetrators by the authorities. This demonstrates that law enforcement is the best deterrence. In 2020, there was one report of the arrest of perpetrators in March but no further arrest was reported since then.

graph 1 incidents in the singapore strait during 2007 - 2020
Image Credits: recaap.org

This Special Report is to alert the shipping industry and law enforcement agencies on the current situation of concern in the Singapore Strait and to provide an insight of the incidents, the modus operandi of the perpetrators, and recommendations to the shipping industry and authorities of littoral States.

The ReCAAP ISC advises ship master and crew to exercise enhanced vigilance and immediately report all incidents and presence of suspicious small boats in the vicinity, to the nearest coastal State. The littoral States are urged to increase the patrol and enforcement in their respective waters as well as to strengthen cooperation and coordination among the littoral States for patrols and sharing information on the latest situation and criminal groups involved, in order to arrest perpetrators.

The Special Report is available on the ReCAAP ISC website.

Press Release

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