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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Guest post: Crime and complacency in Qatar can go hand in hand

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Photo of carpark for illustrative purposes only.
Photo of carpark for illustrative purposes only.

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).

Pro thief

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.

Thoughts?

36 COMMENTS

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Rissah Mota
Rissah Mota
7 years ago

I too had my camera and lenses stolen from my car. I have been bringing my camera with me for a month, and this particular day it had been stolen… reported it to the police but sorry to say, nothing was solved. So yes, never leave anything in the car since this could also be a temptation to someone.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago

Given your version of events I raise these questions. Firstly was the suspect with the handbag actually the original thief or did he find the handbag after it was discarded and was caught with it? Secondly was there an accomplice if he as the original thief? If your neighbour caught the suspect in your car park with your handbag and there is no mention of an accomplice, Where did your money go? It should have been recovered at the scene if the suspect apprehended was the original thief and he did not have an accomplice. I would be speaking to the neighbour and asking did he see the money at the scene? Did he see anyone remove it etc. I would then be demanding a copy of any CCTV from the apartment management and reviewing if I was you. If your version above reads as an accurate account then the money has gone missing at the scene in a short period of time, with only very limited persons with motive means and opportunity. Read into this what you will, but I dare not express my view here in Qatar in such an open forum.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

I must say that is pretty dumb, where in the world would you leave a large amount of cash in your car unattended overnight?
If the object of this story was to inform people to be more careful in Doha then it just missed the mark by a long way, it just reassured me that I would not be as stupid to leave my valuables unattended in my car overnight and that criminals have easy prey like this, therefore they don’t need to bother more intelligent members of society.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Never made a mistake MIMH. How compassionate you are.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Criminals and crime aren’t compassionate

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

Blame the victim of course. 22 years policing experience, predominately investigation of serious crime, with grad and post grad quals, and I’ve seen it all before Kingpin. Indicative of the selfish community we live in, blame the victim. MIMH attacks the victims intelligence, not very polite, a mistake was made, the victim acknowledges that. However if you read my original post one may suggest on the face of it that the money should have still been at the scene at point of apprehension. But without being there I can’t really say of course.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

It’s not blame the victim, but the victim clearly didn’t try to ensure she wasn’t a victim of crime. Would her car have been broken into if the bag hadn’t been left there? Possibly, but the money wouldn’t have been stolen. With 22 years policing experience and grad and post grad quals, can you tell me why do cars and houses have locks? And is prevention not better than cure? Surely that’s the first rule of policing/crime prevention. Also most low level crime is opportunistic, which leaving bags in cars aids.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

Yes you are right crime prevention is the first and foremost rule of modern policing…..Sir Robert Peel. Read the post by MIMH, my point is no need to blame the victim with the dumb comment. Mistakes are made. Whilst we are having a discussion on prevention, all we hear is Qatar is safe etc etc, therefore maybe, just maybe some of the population has a false sense of security and make the mistake of leaving the car open. Everyday during summer I see cars left open, motor running, with no person inside, now there is a start of a prevention and awareness campaign don’t you think?

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Hey I wouldn’t leave my car in the Vatican with valuables in it with the pope around, or even in Mecca surrounded by Imans.

As the man pointed out below, humans are selfish cretatures and given temptation and opportunity even the best can sucumb.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

regardless of the nature of the crime you should never blame the victim for the actions of the criminals. you wouldnt blame the victim if she was she attacked for wearing a fancy watch and walking down a dark alley at 2 am in the middle of a dangerous area would you? this isnt any different

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago

Qatar may have a very low crime rate, but I’m sorry to say, if you leave a large sum of money in a car, you are asking for trouble, anywhere in the world. Would you leave it on the ground outside the car and expect it to be there when you returned?

Michael Pearson
Michael Pearson
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

Yes, we get the point – leaving the bag in view was not a smart decision – but again, people make mistakes/have rushed days or other things on their mind and stuff like this happens.

I’m sorry, but your original comment served no real purpose other than to belittle the original poster. You could have made your statement in a more polite and approachable manner, but because it was full of a animosity and self-superiority, it can’t be received well.

And a bit off topic, but by your same logic, you sound like one of those people that perpetuates rape culture and blames the victims of rape rather than the rapists.

“Oh, that girl wore a short skirt and smiled at a guy? She was asking to be raped.”

Crimes are committed by the criminal, not the victim.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago

Dude, get your salary, leave it outside, go to bed, go outside to get it in the morning…….. “OMG its not there”.

Take some responsibility for your actions. Low level crime is opportunistic, leave valuables in view, they get stolen, in Qatar, in UK, in the North Pole.

The rape issue, that you raised is a straw man argument. It would be more valid to say that if a girl, with a short skirt went and stayed in a jail cell full of convicted rapists, then she would be asking for trouble. You need to be aware of preventing crime, that is not the same as saying you are responsible for it.

Guest8
Guest8
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

Can we just leave rape out of this?

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Guest8

Yes, I was only responding not initiating

Guest8
Guest8
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

Yeah, I was just replying in the thread hoping Michael Pearson sees it. There is enough of a rape blaming culture here as it is.

Guest8
Guest8
7 years ago

Can we leave rape out of this, please. There is enough of a rape blaming culture here as it is.

Pete
Pete
7 years ago

The timeline and events described here are confusing. The victim says that when she got to the police station they informed her that her car had been broken into. How did she not see that when she got into her car in the parking garage? She wasn’t given a lift because she says she was on her own.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Pete

Why do the police not come to your door when a crime is reported? Is it not inviting another crime, phoning a woman in the middle of the night and asking her to go outside to a police station?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

By that logic nobody should go to the police to report a crime at night! It’s also more effecint and easier for a person to find the police station than for the police to go looking around for the person.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

If the police can phone you they know where you live.

Not many peopele go to a police station to report a crime, in most countries you phone them and they come to you, especially if you are a single woman and its the middle of the night

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

You phone them to come to a crime scene to investigate or if your too hurt to go to them. In this case, based on the account above, they had a man who was caught with her purse and he was at the station. She had to go their to identify him since he claimed to know her. Does it seem wise to you for 2 or more cops to go to a single woman’s house in the middle of the night with a potential criminal?

I’m not sure that just becasue they managed to call her that it means they necessarily know where she lives; people often give their P.O.Box # for an address.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I seems strange that you are arguing that it makes more sense for a single woman to travel across town in the middle of the night, using a car that has just been broken into, from a carpark that may still have criminals present, to visit a police station, rather than an armed police officer coming to her, even just to escort her to the station. I don’t follow your logic.

Also, even if she did use a PO box, once the police phoned they could have asked the address. And a woman’s bag has been stolen, and her car broken into. I assume the police had been to the crime scene (which is in a carpark below where she leaves), do they not think it is wise to check on the woman at the same time.

Both examples are, as a previous poster said, showing police ineptitude and/or incompetence.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

1) Did, in fact, the police come to the crime scene prior to contacting the victim (not mentioned in the story)? If so, then you have a point, and they should’ve spoken with her then.

2) I wouldn’t disagree with your point about the police sending a car to escort the victim to the police station. However, even the victim herself didn’t know her car was broken into until after she got to the police station. In fact, we don’t know whether or not the police had offered to send someone to pick her up. She might’ve chosen to drive herself since it’ll get her to the police station faster than having to wait for their car to come pick her up.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

1) The police had the bag. It says the neighbour found the bag and phoned the police, so I assume they came to the crime scene, or did they just tell the neighbour to come to the police station too?
2) She said she was informed her car was broken into at the police station, so I am making an assumption that the police knew the car had been broken into.

However, both of these points are just arguing about semantics of how the story is written. The fact is the police should have come to her, as they would in most other advanced countries (please note that I am calling Qatar an advanced country, not having a go at Qatar). Do the police just phone criminals up and tell them to come to the station? Its pretty ridiculous.

Shabina921
Shabina921
7 years ago
Reply to  Pete

I can answer this. The way she explained it to me, she has a convertible, and the guy appeared to use a wire hanger (which she found inside her car) to break part of the rubber seal and unlock the door. So it really showed no signs of being broken into.

Guest8
Guest8
7 years ago

Many readers are missing the point, which is–be cautious and don’t leave your valuables out for the taking. The author herself recognizes that she made a mistake. She isn’t trying to say she wasn’t stupid. She’s doing a public service so that you don’t suffer the same rate.

I do think she’s asking a bit much for the police to prioritize her case. I’m sure when they said they’d keep her in the loop, their promises were amended by insh’allah.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
7 years ago

its so sad that things like this keep happening, i remember when you could leave your car unlocked with the key inside anyone could just get in and drive away with it but no one ever did. unfortunately that’s not the case anymore and we cant enjoy the safety we used to have.

Diego
Diego
7 years ago

What I see from this is the obvious.Never leave a purse or mobile in the car,locked or unlocked, especially with a sum of money in there.There is careless and then there is more than careless.Personally I would have to be almost on my last legs or death bed to make that error in judgement(not saying I couldn’t make an error,but when carrying large sums I am constantly conscious of that).Really, given that someone was out there searching unoccupied cars in the middle of the night for things to steal, don’t make it easier for them.Whether they are not supposed to be stealing,whether or not many women carry handbags that would do for carry on luggage and are most visible,whether or not the police will prioritize this since the money is not there,an opportunity was made available for an unscroupolous character.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

If most people were to exercise the same due care that they did back in their home countries, we’d have far less crime of this nature.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Exactly

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Although in the US they have a tendency to do this by heavily arming themselves a deterent. 😉

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
7 years ago

Petty crime takes place everywhere and it is always low on the list of priorities for police to clear up. We are all responsible for our carelessness and given the number of people in Qatar who are living on the breadline due to unscrupulous Employers, it is hardly surprising when opportunist theft takes place. In the UK you would have lost the car too, or mugged in the basement carpark.
Qatar is a pretty safe place to live, so I am not sure what the main thrust of the article is about- the theft, the victims carelessness, her vulnerability as a single woman or police ineptitude and disinterest.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  outdoorsboys

In the UK they would have taken the whole car, then used the purse obtain information about the owner to steal her identity.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

I wonder what country she’s from to have such high expectations from the police with regard to them “keeping her in the loop”!

Guest8
Guest8
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

She’s probably never been the victim of a crime before in her own country and has nothing to compare it to. She’s probably as cautious as she knows she should have been here when at home.

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