Burglaries On The Rise, Riyadh Residents Complain

Several thefts and burglaries have been reported this month in the Riyadh region, including three this week alone when burglars stole large amounts of cash and jewelry from the house of a local resident.

Burglars robbed the home of Saqavath Ali, a Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB) employee. Speaking to Arab News, Ali said that he had filed a complaint with local police but recovery of his belongings — including gold jewelry, a computer, a gas cylinder and other household items — looks remote.

“On returning home at 10.45 p.m., I found the main door broken and all household items strewn across the bedrooms and drawing room. … I have lodged a complaint at the Malaz Police Station, but no breakthrough has been achieved so far,” he said, adding that he was dissatisfied at the way reports of theft and robberies are handled by local police.

The daylight robbery of the home of another expatriate couple in the fashionable Rawda district of the city has triggered a new debate on the need to check the growing incidence of burglaries in the capital. Gold jewelry worth SR30,000 was stolen from the house of Samiullah and Renu Ali.

The thieves are still at large. The caretaker of the building was briefly detained by police for questioning.

In another case, an expatriate woman said her housemaid was alone when her home was burgled. The maid claims that the burglars tied her to a pillar, stole valuables and fled in a getaway car parked outside. The case remains unsolved.

“They took away all the valuables including jewelry, home appliances and the music system,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified.

Cases like these have become common in Riyadh nowadays. Amanullah, an engineer, said that he was roughed up only last week by a group of Arab boys, who snatched some valuables from him including a cell phone. Amanullah was returning home from prayers at a nearby mosque. The districts of Malaz, Haiul Wazarat, Batha, Al-Suwedi and other old areas of the capital have become notorious for thefts and muggings.

An average of 10 cell phones are either snatched forcibly or stolen from these areas everyday. In all of these cases, local police have largely failed to recover stolen valuables or arrest the culprits. Although the Ministry of Interior has implemented a security patrolling system to stem instances of crime, a well-organized gang of thieves seems to be on the prowl.

According to an official report published recently, the Riyadh region tops the list of recorded theft cases in the Kingdom. Of the 27,140 thefts and burglaries reported Kingdomwide last year, more than 12,500 cases were in the Riyadh region. Prince Ahmad, deputy minister of interior, said efforts are being made by the ministry to stop thefts.

A number of surveillance cameras have been installed in compounds and public places to detect crimes. Municipal officials have also been instructed to illuminate streets and residential quarters to discourage thieves from operating under the cover of darkness.

The prince attributed the rise in crime rate to the population growth, an increasing number of illegal residents and drug addiction among youngsters. Crime also seems to increase during the summer holidays.

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