Qatar is widely considered to be one of the safest countries in the world, but it is not immune to crime, something that residents sometimes forget. A British expat and longtime Doha resident recently had her car broken into in Al Sadd. The woman, who is single and has asked to remain anonymous, is sharing her story as a way to encourage others to take preventative measures to protect themselves and their belongings.
Earlier this month, I was awakened by a call on my house phone at 2am, when the police called. As the officer identified himself, the worst scenarios ran through my mind: Had something happened to a family member? Had I done something illegal (without knowing)?
Thankfully, the answers to those questions were no and the no. The police were calling to inform me that they had my handbag and asked me to go to the police station to answer some questions. Since I was given minimal details over the phone, my mind was perplexed, and I frantically began trying to recall my steps that evening.
Although I was reluctant to leave the house alone in the middle of the night, I had no choice if I wanted to find out how my handbag ended up in their hands.
When I got to the station, I was informed that my car, which was parked in its usual spot in the carpark in the basement of my building, had been broken into and a man had taken my handbag from the passenger seat. (Which I know I should not have left in the car, but the man should not have stolen it).
Before taking my statement, they told me the man claimed to know me, but when they took me to identify him in his jail cell, I had never seen him before. He didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Arabic.
Though I rarely carry cash, I happened to have a large sum of it in my purse that day, which I planned to wire home. That money was the only thing missing when my handbag was returned to me.
I later learned, from the security in my building in Al Sadd, that one of my neighbors caught the man with my handbag (crouched on the floor of the carpark with my belongings spread out and muttering to himself). It was my neighbor who called the police.
The police said the man had broken into other cars in the Al Sadd area. He had told them my car was unlocked. It was not, but as there is minimal damage, it suggests knew what he was doing.
More than two weeks have passed since the incident. The police, despite reassurances that I would be kept in the loop, has not contacted me. My recent attempts to follow up with them and to report other items missing from my car (including my registration) have been in vain and incredibly frustrating.
The lessons here are ones that I have had to learn the hard way – take care of your belongings, don’t think your car is safe or secure anywhere, and don’t expect any swift actions from the police.
On a positive note, I have lived in Al Sadd for more than seven years and this is the only time I have been a victim of a crime. I hope it is the last.