Police appeal against scaremongering on social media

Police appeal against scaremongering on social media
June 06 17:26 2017

The police have appealed against scaremongering on social media after widely shared posts about several mugging incidents in Malé by a group of knife-wielding men.

Only one case of theft and a complaint about a taxi driver were found to be true, the police said, adding that the mugging incident is under investigation and action has been taken against the taxi driver.

“We note that when such information is shared on social media, it is misused and false stories are circulated in a manner that creates fear and panic among the public,” the police said in a statement on Sunday.

The police urged social media users to be more responsible when sharing such information.

The appeal came after Facebook posts about muggings in several areas of the capital were widely shared since the beginning of Ramadan in late May.

“Be careful. There is a group of muggers in the alley in front of the health ministry. Specially, at night. Be precautious if going to that area alone,” read one post.

A man was alleged to have been forced at knifepoint to withdraw his whole salary from a nearby ATM.

Another post cautioned against walking alone in the block surrounding Billabong High International School and the Maldives National University on the south side of the capital. 

According to the posts, three women and one man were threatened with knives and forced to hand over cash and belongings. The victims were warned against reporting the incidents to the police, the posts claimed.

Asked how the police determined that most of the claims were untrue, the police spokesman declined to comment.

Superintendent Ahmed Shifan stressed, however, that the police “does not discourage the public from sharing information regarding such incidents on social media but advise to be truthful about it.”

According to police statistics, 289 incidents of theft and 31 robberies were reported in June last year. The fasting month of Ramadan began in the first week of June 2016.

A total of 3617 theft incidents and 716 robberies were reported to the police in 2016.

Some 21 cases of theft and four robberies have been reported so far this month.

The Elections Commission office in Malé was broken into on the night of May 27, the first day of Ramadan, and the office safe was stolen.

A break-in was also reported at the family court building in Malé on June 2. Four laptops and MVR1,000 (US$65) in cash were stolen after dusk prayers on Friday evening.