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02 October 2023

Monsoon thefts worry expat Keralites in UAE

By VM Sathish

Many Keralite expatriates in the UAE are a worried lot during the current monsoon, after a number of thefts were reported from different parts of Kerala, especially the Malabar region, where women live alone with their children with the heads of their families working in the Gulf.

The number of thefts targeting expatriate homes, especially homes where women live alone, is on the rise during the ongoing monsoon season when families and neighbours lock themselves inside their houses during heavy rains, making the job easier for thieves.

It was in the first week of August 2013 that a leading Indian expat from the UAE was found murdered in his palatial house in Trikkarippur in Kerala’s Kasargod district. A B Abdul Salam Haji, a hotelier in Dubai, was in his home town for celebrating Ramadan Eid when he was brutally murdered by a group of robbers who were later caught. The culprits were his relatives. Haji was beaten to death, after his children and wife were locked up in separate rooms.

Similarly, the home of a non-resident Indian living in Thiruvananthapuram was broken into by the notorious thief Bandi Chor who was later arrested with the expensive car that he had stolen from the house.

This year, several reports of thefts from their home towns and neighbourhoods are worrying Keralite expatriates.

The recent high-profile murder of two NRI youths from Dubai by their friends in a gold smuggling case caused concern in the community. The two young men, who were gold carriers from Dubai, were found murdered and buried in Kasargod. The culprits were caught by Karnataka police. Many youngsters have become part of criminal syndicates, undertaking such crimes for money.

“Many theft cases are reported from the Malabar region of Kerala during the monsoon when people lock themselves up inside their homes. The heavy rain presents a golden chance for thieves to target big and isolated expatriate homes in which the men are working abroad.

“In my neighbourhood, there were a couple of recent theft cases and the culprits are suspected to be North Indian construction workers,” said Zubair Vallikkadu, a social worker who hails from Vadakara near Kozhikode, home to large number of Keralite expatriates.

The problem is more serious in the northern Kannur, Kasargod and Kozhikode districts of Kerala.

“I have alerted my wife to be vigilant, after a few cases were reported from Vadakara and neighbouring areas,” added Zubair. “When it is raining heavily, some attempts were made to break open the locks or to steal parked cars. Many expatriate families are worried about thefts when they go out after locking their houses, especially in villages. Thieves and specialised gangs prowl the area to target big houses of NRIs where the family head or other men are working abroad,” added another expatriate from Nadapuram near Kozhikode.

It is easy to identify NRI houses because most of them are relatively bigger.

In a recent case reported from Perambra, thieves tried to break open the rear door and steal gold, money and electronic gadgets when the family was out. Another group was caught while trying to break the door of the terrace of an expatriate house in Vadakara. The culprits were construction workers from northern states.

Kerala has a severe shortage of construction workers and many companies hire workers from northern and north eastern states like West Bengal, Assam and Rajasthan and some of them live in Kerala without proper IDs, according to social workers in UAE.

In one aborted robbery attempt, the thief was identified to be a former domestic help of the same house.

Some construction workers have a clear idea about the interior of expat houses because they have fixed marble floors, toilets etc  in these houses.

[Image via Shutterstock]