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Dubai Police have stepped up efforts to prevent robberies and pickpocketing in the crowded Naif area in Dubai. An aerial view of Naif Police Station, Image Credit: Dubai Police

Dubai: An employee at a Dubai-based company was stopped by Dubai Police for carrying more than Dh1 million in a plastic bag and riding a bicycle, an official said.

According to Brigadier Tarik Tahlak, director of Naif Police Station, the employee left the bank with the money and was riding a bicycle to return to the company premises, making himself an easy target.

“It is a strange behaviour for a bank customer not to secure this amount of money by carrying the money in a plastic bag. He was summoned to the police station for flouting money transport procedures,” said Brig Tahlak.

Busy commercial area

In a busy and commercial area like Naif with many banks, exchange houses and shops, Dubai Police have stepped forward to prevent robberies and pickpocketing. Alongside chasing thieves, Dubai Police began targeting potential victims as a theft prevention technique in Naif area. “We have taken new measures in crime prevention in Naif area. We are not only targeting the criminals but the victims as most of the crimes are stealing from bank customers and pickpocketing,” he added.

Brig Tahlak said that team works in the area gained major experience in spotting potential victims to reach them before the thieves. “Companies should have at least two employees to withdraw and transport money from banks. It is important to use a car for transportation — not walking or using a bicycle even if it is a short distance.”

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The new strategy has reduced the number of pickpocketing incidents in Naif area by 87 per cent. According to Dubai Police, the crime dropped from 57 pickpocketing cases in 2018 to 31 cases in 2019.

Last year saw seven incidents and two in the first three months of this year. “It’s a proactive strategy to reduce pickpocketing and thefts based on identifying potential victims, especially those who carry unsecured large sums of cash,” said Brig Tahlak.

Theft scenarios in Naif area

According to Brig Tahlak, a field study by the Criminal Data Analysis Centre at Dubai Police revealed that thieves works in a groups of two to three members and target older victims to avoid being chased by them.

Three pickpocketing scenarios

The study identified three theft scenarios repeated most of the time. “Thieves used a technique of spitting or spraying a liquid on victims and obstructing their way then pretending to offer help. A third one that is rarely used involves cutting victims pockets using a sharp blade,” said Brig Tahlak.

Most of the incident happened near banks and ATM machines in the early hours of morning. “We raised the awareness among bank customers on the precautionary measures to avoid being robbed like avoiding to walk with the cash, or stepping outside of their cars if someone warned them from a malfunction in their vehicles like problem in the tyre,” he added.

Dubai Police also advised people to not count money in front of strangers.