Sewer Swindlers

Thieves’ Escape Route from Justice

In addition to house break-ins and street robberies in broad daylight, thieves are increasingly employing sewers to elude the law and their victims. Due to this, it has been challenging for the authorities to find and prosecute them. Numerous variables, including poverty, the country’s inflated economy, unemployment, and drug addiction, might be blamed for the rise in theft cases. Residents are making extra efforts to secure their homes as they grow more anxious about their safety. In this article, EBR’s Hemen Asmare looks into the increase in theft and burglary in Ethiopia, its root causes, and the need for government and community action to address the issue.

In recent years, Ethiopia has experienced an increase in crime rates, with theft being one of the most prevalent crimes. According to the Ethiopian Federal Police Commission, over 22,000 reported theft cases in 2019 alone. This number will rise even further as the country faces economic challenges.

One of the most common forms of theft in Ethiopia is house robbery. Burglars often target homes that appear to be unoccupied or have minimal security measures in place. They typically enter through windows or doors that are left unlocked or readily accessible in some cases. They even bribe housemaids into letting them in.

Natan Belete lives around Summit in Lemi Kura Sub City; on June 20, 2023 morning Natan was going about his usual day, and he was taking a shower at 6 am when he heard his wife calling out for him in panic, “I quickly got out of the shower and went to look what happened as I got to the living room there were thieves in my house with knives and guns holding my wife captive and threatening, they would kill us if we make a sound.”

Natan tells EBR, remembering what his family went through. “We had no choice and we just sat there and watched them load our belongings and drive off.”

Natan says he fears for his and his family’s life and has been losing sleep ever since.

Residents are becoming increasingly concerned about the rise in house robberies and burglaries. Many are taking extra precautions to secure their homes, such as installing security cameras, hiring guards, or reinforcing doors and windows. However, these measures can be costly and are only sometimes feasible for everyone.

In addition to the financial burden of securing their homes, residents are also worried about the psychological impact of being a victim of theft. Many report feeling violated and anxious after a break-in, which can have long-lasting effects on their mental health.

Bamlak Fekadu, his wife, and his three children reside in the same neighbourhood. When the family was asleep on July 20, 2023, thieves broke through an electric fence at night and stole a television valued at ETB200,000.

“What assurance do we have for what comes next?” Bamlak questioned, “Why don’t the security forces uphold the law?”

“Unfortunately, some thieves and robbers are able to evade punishment by working with corrupt police officers or coming up with new methods of conning people and escaping the law so sometimes there is no point in reporting them,” Bamlak tells EBR.

The Ministry of Justice Director of Public Relations and Communications, Awol Sultan, claims that 40Pct of the reported incidents are theft crimes. Although the police are taking various measures to avoid theft, Awol says that the theft crime is currently out of control.

Awol said that It is essential for communities to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities to help prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place.

The rise in theft and burglary cases results from worsening poverty, unemployment, and drug addiction. Desperation and lack of opportunities have pushed many young people into theft, while others turn to crime to finance their drug habits.

“The Ethiopian government has taken steps to address the issue of theft, including increasing police presence in high-crime areas and implementing community policing programs. However, more needs to be done to address the root causes of crime and provide economic opportunities for those at risk of turning to theft.” Awol tells EBR.

Street theft has become a growing problem in many cities worldwide, including Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Thieves target city dwellers who often carry expensive items such as phones and jewellery. These criminals use various methods to snatch their targets’ belongings and escape without being caught.

One common tactic used these days is thieves jumping into a nearby sewer or canal and crawling through the dark, smelly tunnels until they reach a safe location and avoid being caught.

Helen Kebede, 30, is a mother of two and an accountant in a private firm in Yeka Sub City around Megenagna.

Helen was leaving work on May 11, 2023, at 11:00 pm11:00 pm and was going to take a taxi to go home. “I received a phone call and I picked it up as I was in a rush. I wasn’t paying much attention to who was around me and before I could notice a thief grabbed my phone and ran and quickly went into the sewer. The security forces in the area came right away and started looking for him but couldn’t find him.” Helen told EBR. Like Helen, many residents experience even worse kinds of theft daily.

“In my opinion, both government and community action are needed.” Says Helen, “The government should increase police presence in areas where street theft is common and implement harsher penalties for those caught committing these crimes.”

Street theft is a growing problem in many cities worldwide, not only in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Thieves use various tactics to steal valuable items from unsuspecting city dwellers and escape without being caught. Government and community action is needed to ensure the safety and security of all individuals in our communities.

According to the Economic Survey 2022 by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, stealing was the most reported crime in Kenya by 31.1Pct. Stealing cases stood at 14,714 in 2022 compared to 11,762 in 2021, 8,709 in 2022, 13,954 in 2019 and 12,845 in 2018. There were 3,125 robbery cases in 2022, 2,456 in 2021, 2384 in 2022, 2858 in 2019 and 2,935 in 2018. The research shows the robbery rate in Kenya has increased throughout the years.

11th Year • August 2023 • No. 120 EBR

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