Exclusive report | Thefts alarmingly escalate in Hama in light of growing poverty, high prices and lack of job opportunities
As a sever economic hardship has plagued the areas controlled by the Syrian regime throughout Syria and left people in these areas struggling with dire living conditions, thefts have been noticeably escalated in Hama city.
Local sources have informed SOHR that Hama city experienced a shocking number of thefts in the recent time, including stealing cars and motorcycles and robbing houses and shops, at a time when the regime security services have been unable neither to prosecute the thieves nor put an end to these escalating thefts. It is worth noting that gangs exploit the power outages at night to break into shops and loot their contents more easily.
The recent escalation of thefts and the relevant authorities’ inability to control the security situation in the city have ignited a state of panic and concern among the families living there. Accordingly, these families started to follow specific procedures to protect their properties.
In a testimony to SOHR, the owner of a real estate office known by his initials as M. S. from Hama city said, “my car, “Skoda” make, was stolen, as I used to park it in front of my office which is only a few metres away from my house in al-Hader neighbourhood in Hama. The car was stolen at night on May 15, 2021, so I filed a report in the police station and provided the police officer with the car’s description. I also distributed a publication of the car’s description to many auto stores. However, I have not found it so far. Several thefts are reported every day in al-Hader neighbourhood, especially robberies of houses whose owners living abroad. Also, robberies of shops, particularly currency exchange shop and jewelry stores, continued, despite the strict security measures throughout Hama city, which failed so far to put an end to these escalating thefts.”
M. S. added, “I could offset the cost of my stolen car only after a long time of hard work, specially since I get a lower income than previously due to the reduced demand for selling houses, apartments and shops in light of the high prices of real estates. The growing poverty of the most of families in Hama city was a major reason behind the rising rate of thefts, as many young men are jobless, as well as the astronomically inflated prices and the government’s inability to improve the living situation in Hama city.”
The police in Hama city had announced the arrest of several gangs responsible for thefts in Hama neighbourhoods, al-Hemaydiyah neighbourhood in particular, as a man was arrested on May 20, while he was attempting to rob a house in al-Hemaydiyah neighbourhood, exploiting the absence of the house’s owner. While interrogating the thief, he acknowledged of committing several thefts.
Also, on May 11, a man was arrested, while he was attempting to rob a bird shop, while three other men who were with the thief managed to escape. After tracking the three other men, they were also arrested. The four thieves acknowledged of stealing cars, motorcycles and power generators.
Similarly, the police arrested a gang of four, on January 11, in al-Debagha neighbourhood in Hama city. After investigation, it was found out that the gang was involved into several robberies of houses in Hama city, after breaking their doors. The gang’s members also stole several batteries from cars parked in the streets of Hama city and sold them.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Syrian regime mourned two police officers, Zakaria Shallal and Mohammed Musalam, who were killed in an armed attack on a checkpoint in al-Sagha market in Hama city centre on August 30. The Ministry of Interior Affairs suggested that the reason behind the attack on the checkpoint, which left the two police officers dead, was attempts to rob jewelry stores in the market.
It is worth noting that all provinces under the control of the Syrian regime are struggling with deteriorating security situation, as security chaos has noticeably escalated in the recent time due to the sever economic hardship and prohibitively high prices of essential products.