Incidents like ordinary thefts, robberies, harassment, muggings and car thefts are giving people sleepless nights, especially expatriates living in notorious districts of the city like Haiul Wazarat, Batha, Suwedi and Somaishi.
“Nobody is safe from these gangs of criminals, who are snatching the purses of ladies in broad daylight, snatching cell phones and even stealing cars,” said M. Najmuddin, a Pakistani worker who saw a group of young boys robbing a family on Friday evening.
On Friday afternoon, Saleem P. Jehangir, an Asian executive, said he had lodged a complaint to the police after he foiled a daytime robbery attempt on him by three youths as he was returning home with his wife.
Jehangir, who was completely shaken by the incident, said a young man entered his building lobby, snatched the keys of his flat and car and then ran down the stairs.
“I was really shocked and bewildered,” he added.
He said that he managed to overpower the young black boy somehow and get his keys back. However, his attacker managed to flee away in a waiting car with his two accomplices.
In another incident reported last week, Mohammed Ali, who did not divulge his occupation, said he was approached by a few men near Dabbab Street in Riyadh. “They mugged me and managed to take SR3,500 and my cell phone within a few seconds,” said Ali, adding that the criminals were armed and hence he did not resist. “These kinds of cases are being reported on an hourly basis in different parts of Riyadh,” said Mohammed Zakaullah Khan, who came to the Arab News office with a petition signed by many victims.
A Pakistani national Amir, who runs his own air conditioning workshop, said a group of victims including Khan, Mohammed Shafiq, Syed Wajid, Mohammed Islmail, M. Saleem, Syed Javid and a few others are working to submit a petition to the regional police chief soon. They also called on their respective embassies to take urgent steps to stop the criminal activities. Most of the victims are expatriate workers, but some Saudi nationals have also been targeted during the last few weeks, said Amir.
The petition addressed to the Riyadh police chief calls for immediate measures to check crime especially in Haiul Wazarat District of the city. The petition, which will be submitted to the police officials within a few days from now, has identified some 10 young Arabic-speaking men, mostly teenagers, who are involved in snatching and harassing women in that area. The petition said if someone refuses to pay money to the gang, then they will throw a stone on that person’s car or damage his property in full public view.
“It is increasingly becoming dangerous to withdraw cash from an ATM if the machine is at an isolated location,” he said. In another incident last Wednesday night, a student from the International Indian School was mobbed by a group of young boys. “These Arabic speaking boys grabbed my school bag and took away my cellphone and SR75 by force,” said the student, without giving his name. The incident took place in the posh Rawdah district in Riyadh.
“There is an urgent need to intensify police patrolling in the capital city,” said another victim. Riyadh police in the recent past arrested several young thieves who used to snatch handbags from women pedestrians while riding motorbikes. Meanwhile, Riyadh police have been conducting raids to nab criminals. They have managed to clamp down on various illegal activities in several crime-infested districts of Riyadh, including Batha, Shifa and Suwaidi. These areas are also known for being home to a large number of illegal residents.
A gang of 14 men of various nationalities that carried out over 100 robberies in Riyadh was busted in a raid conducted a few days ago, according to Riyadh police. The gang was allegedly involved in a spate of street muggings and robberies in the capital city, targeting stores, homes, warehouses and pharmacies. Police also seized some SR315,000 in cash, expensive watches, computers, cell phones, pharmaceutical drugs and cellphone recharge cards. The group had also allegedly stolen a number of cars.

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