Crime rate drops in capital
In a world where tragedies occur from time to time, the Chinese capital enjoyed a relatively peaceful and stable period in the first three months.
Officials say the number of criminal cases dropped 10 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Meanwhile, minor cases dropped almost 25 per cent between January and March year-on-year, said Chen Qiang, deputy head of the Criminal Investigation Division at the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.
However, he noted that car theft is on the rise, with most of the thefts involving organized rings.
The police cracked 170 car robbery cases in the first three months and recovered 234 stolen automobiles, said Chen.
One of the cases involving a well-rooted gang of car thieves was smashed last month and five suspects have been detained.
The gangsters have confessed they have committed 21 counts of crime since 2001 in the Haidian and Chaoyang districts of Beijing.
The stolen cars, including several Passat and Santana sedans, are worth nearly 3 million yuan (US$360,000), said Chen.
Moreover, he revealed that a larger gang of car thieves is under investigation in the Chongwen District.
Chen said his bureau would launch a special campaign against such groups in the next few months.
"Car owners should install burglar-proof devices on their cars and park them at places with minders," said Chen.
At Thursday's news briefing at the bureau, Chen also revealed two other serious criminal cases cracked in the past couple of months.
One is a 50-plus-member gang that committed at least 72 robberies in Beijing since last July.
The gang members, most of whom are from Henan Province, looted more than 1 million yuan (US$120,000) worth of goods. Most victims were construction companies located in the outskirts of town, according to Chen.
The other case is a gang headed by Bi Hongbo that has bullied residents and embezzled local business people in the Chaoyang District for years.
Most of the gangsters are laid-off people from Northeast China, said Chen.
So far, police have gained evidence to prove that the group had committed at least seven cases of blackmail and embezzlement of 27,000 yuan (US$3,300).
In another development, three criminals who carjacked five Mercedes-Benz cars, one Audi car and two Santana cars worth 6 million yuan (US$725,000) were sentenced to death Thursday by the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court.
Six drivers were murdered by 41-year-old Li Xiaoping, 40 -year-old Wang Qinghai and 33-year-old Cheng Long during robberies.
Thursday's presiding judge is Gao Jie.
In July 2001,the three men stole the Mercedes at a parking lot in Beijing's Chaoyang District,killing the driver. The car was sold in Daqing, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
Afterwards, Li and his gang members stole four Mercedes Benz cars and an Audi car in the Chaoyang District and the Haidian District from July 2001 to April 2003.
They also stole two Santana cars in April and July 2002 in Beijing.
Valuables in the cars, including cash, mobile phones and watches were also stolen by the criminals, according to the court.
Wang and Cheng were arrested in June last year in Shuangliao of Northeast China's Liaoning Province.
During a fight with Wang and Cheng, a policeman was killed and three were injured by them.