Crime rate hike in Hpakant amid COVID-19 lock down

Seng Htoi Zin / May 17, 2020

Two thieves detained by Hpakant residents

The crime rate has recorded high in Burma’s infamous jade mine Hpakat in northern Kachin State caused by the economic hardship of the ordinary people and drug users during the country’s lock down season of COVID-19.

Over a hundred motorcycles have been stolen and over 30 homes have been broken-in by the aggravated burglary withing the months of April and May, according the local sources.

I have lost my motorbike and it was believed to be stolen by a drug users, the motorbike owner Marip Gam told The Kachin Post. “It’s getting worse than before, because the jade market is closed and no one making money from trading jade,” Gam said. More drugs users involved in committing this crimes, even some crime scene happened in the bright day light, he added.

Since April, Burma imposed community lock down in order to prevent the spread of deadly COVID-19. The country also ordered curfew in most parts of the country that no one is allowed to go outside of home between 10 pm to 4 am.

The drug users are the hardest hit by the economic hardship because they now have zero income which they used to make from working as the mine-waste scavengers, Htu Lum from a community-based anti-drug organization told The Kachin Post. The drug users have no choice to do whatever they can to find money to buy drug, doesn’t matter COVID-19 lock down or not, Htu continued. “They can’t stop using drug.”

Hpakant is one of the highest crime rate in the country due to its nature of having many people of different background seeking job at the jade industry and the prevalence of many drug users at all time.