Thefts from cars cause unease

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Twanda Baker

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A spate of thefts from cars in Doha in the past week has sparked concern among many residents accustomed to Qatar’s reputation as a relatively crime-free country.

The incidents – which have reported by victims dotted around the city –  have prompted calls for drivers to take greater care to lock their cars, and to take all of their valuables with them when leaving their vehicles unattended.

A report in today’s Gulf Times alleges that more than 50 thefts from cars were reported within a few days of each other recently.

The newspaper details a number of different thefts, including:

    • The theft of a wallet containing about QR12,000 from a locked 4X4 parked in front of a construction materials showroom in Al Mansoura;
    • Belongings stolen from a “number” of cars parked near a commercial complex on C-Ring in Bin Mahmoud; and
    • The theft of a wallet from a car parked in front of a nursery in Fereej Abdul Aziz, near Msheirib – its driver had apparently left the vehicle unlocked while she was picking up her child.

Recent reports on Twitter and Facebook suggest schools and nurseries are a particular area for concern.

One Qatar resident named Annaline told Doha News that her handbag was stolen from her unlocked car last week. It had been parked outside a nursery in Abu Hamour.

“It was Monday afternoon, and I went inside, just for a minute, to pick up my daughter. I left the car open – something I never do, but I did that day. It was for such a short time, but apparently that’s enough to take a bag.

That bag had my life – well, at least half of it – inside of it. I keep all my kiddie stuff like milk in there, and of course my phone and purse, with my Qatar ID card inside.”

Annaline added that she reported the theft to the police, who told her that she was the second driver to report an incident like this outside a school in broad daylight in the past week.

“But that time, they told me a mother had left her child in her car while she went into the school to pick up her other child,” she said. “The police told me that the thief came into the car, and the child started to scream, and the man ran off with the mother’s bag.”

So far, Annaline’s bag – and its contents – have not been recovered, although she says that the police were “very helpful.” She was told that the other woman’s handbag was discovered discarded in nearby bins soon after the theft had taken place.

According to the Ministry of Interior, these recent incidents are part of a rising trend in the city, with a similar spate of thefts occurring in January.

On that occasion, two men were arrested for robbery from cars.

Unease

Reports of recent thefts have prompted many Doha residents to question the apparent safety of the city they call home.

Long-term resident Bilal lives in Matar Qadeem, another area identified by the Gulf Times as a current hot spot for car crime. Speaking to Doha News, he said he was concerned because his car, like those of his neighbors, is parked on the street outside of his apartment building. He continued:

“Car vandalism and robberies were unheard of while I was growing up here in Qatar. But what I’ve read about recent incidents in Matar Qadeem has really given me an anxiety shot…

I’m concerned that I am not aware of legal procedures to report such incidents, and I don’t have the time for these anyway – and I don’t know what is the law regarding insurance company policies here.”

Have you been a victim of car crime here? Thoughts?

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