Saturday, March 20, 2010
A couple of local news items today:

First: Muscat Daily recently ran an announcement that they have purchased their own new printing press, and now today the business section is missing! I wonder if it has anything to do with their new printing press? Anyway, I'm sure they'll sort the problem out before tomorrow :)

Keeping with Muscat Daily for a moment, the cover story today is all about Earth Hour. On March 27th at 8:30pm (local time) all of us should turn off our lights and electrical appliances for one hour. Every little helps, so if you remember, please join in.

In the improving local paper, Times of Oman, local journalist Fahad Al Ghadani published a story on Thursday about the problem of rising car crime here in the Capital area. The story details that 15 cars were nicked in one night from a compound in Ruwi. Now, to have a car stolen over night is a problem that effects people the world over - to have 15 robbed in one go from quiet little Muscat marks a significant shift in the way criminals are operating here now. 15 cars, in one night? That means it was, presumably, at least 15 people (all driving one car each). This is a pretty big step-up from your average petty car thief. Nicking 15 cars in one shot represents a few things: 1. Organization, 2. A distribution network capable of handling parts from 15 cars in one go, and 3, a safe-harbour within which the cars can be (presumably) stripped.

Add to this the news that reportedly 20+ cars were stolen in Al Khoud in recent weeks as well, and the increasing reports coming out of Ruwi of people having their flats broken into and it shapes up into an ugly problem. Rising population here, going pretty much unchecked, and the creation of the "youth nation" is leading to increased crime. If you cant get a job, then what other options do you have, really? It's a symptom of the greater problem - a local population that cannot be supported by the local economy.

Even in the Muscat Daily today, in the 'Your Say' section of the paper (pg 4) the topic is divorce. Of course divorce rates are going up - there's more married Omani's now than ever before! It's not rocket science (is it?) to note that more people are getting divorced - more people are getting married too! Thats not to say that the % of married couples getting divorced is not also on the rise, it probably is, but hopefully you can see my point.

And the bad news is, this is only going to get worse. House break-ins are now becoming more and more frequent - look at Suburban's recent post about crime in Qurum in which she asked people to comment with news of crime in their neighbourhoods.

So how do we combat these rising crime rates? Well, I guess the ROP will need to step up their game, which is going to require a large budget increase to them, and a lot more police officers, specifically walking a beat, to help control this. I remember as a kid I worked for a summer in a police station, and they had a policy of sending a letter to the registered owners of vehicles that they found (police) on their routes that were either: unlocked, keys in the ignition, wallet on display, something of value on display or something similar. It worked - car crime in the city I was living in dropped during that summer. The other thing I remember about working in that police station was that they had their own bar, in the station. Funny times.

The ROP are facing a considerable challenge, and unfortunately for them, the "old" way of doing things just is not going to cut it any more. More training, more patrols, more recruiting and new methods of policing will need to be employed here. Car crime is just going to increase here, as will house break-ins, shop-lifting, shop robberies, mugging and all the rest of the unsavoury facts of life.

A multi-pronged approach needs to be taken on how to challenge this rising crime-wave, but I'm not a specialist on the matter. However, it would seem obvious that just beefing up policing is not the only solution. The stigma of working manual labour jobs needs to be removed: Why are there no (or very very few) Omani cleaners? Gardeners? Electricians, plumbers etc. Job creation is key, but with the rising number of marriages, and, presumably children, the problem is going to get larger and larger. Smaller families needs to become the new trend, from a purely economic standpoint.

Well, that's it for today. Hope you all had a good weekend - back to work now!

le fin.


Suburban said...

Good Post. Very sensibly written. Thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and well written. Is there any speculation about who is stealing the cars? Have the ROP issued any public comment? I understand that they must usually go thru gov't approval to comment in a public form. But it would be nice to hear from them. What vehicles are they targeting and what is the common form of theft. Smashing the window and hot wiring it? I wonder..would be good to hear so people could protect themselves better if possible.

Angry In Oman said...

You think the ROP will "walk a beat"? Really?

Karim said...

Switching off lights, fans, ACs and what not for one hour in one day in year will have very little effect on the carbon footprint of a household, and on the other hand, I am asking myself, how big a carbon footprint this media blitz for March 27 has created?

Sythe said...

Thanks for the comments.

No idea what type of cars (if any distinguishable types) are being stolen, nor the method employed (slim-jim or brick-through-the-window).

Not really too sure if the ROP will walk a beat or not, but they need to.

Karim - Every little helps. I personally plan to make great use of the hour... candlelight can be very romantic!

Thats What I said...

also professional thieves following people who have just withdrawn large sums of money from banks and then (here is the extremely professional bit) collapsing the window glass and grabbing the cash from the 'glove box' - at least a 2 person job.

Thats What I said...

oh - to add - shop lifting and shop break-ins have been going on for 20 years in Oman - bank robberies as well - its just that there wasnt the internet / Fahad Al Ghadani to shine the spotlight and as you said - how organised todays bunch are

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