Dubai gang dressed up as beggars for Dh3m villa thefts, police say

Police have arrested a gang of men they say disguised themselves as beggars to carry out the burglaries during Ramadan.

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DUBAI // Police have arrested a gang of men they say disguised themselves as beggars to carry out Dh3 million in thefts from homes during Ramadan. The men - three from Tanzania and three from Burundi - were identified by police after they noticed a similarity between the thefts and methods used by a Tanzanian man already in jail on theft charges. "We investigated, and found this man was being frequently visited in prison by some Africans," said Lt Col Ahmad al Merri, head of criminal investigations at Dubai Police.

Police put the gang under surveillance and discovered the location of the flat in which they lived, which they had sublet in Dubai's Al Naif section. After raiding the apartment, police found many items that had been reported as stolen and arrested the six men. Their fingerprints matched those found at the scenes of the break-ins, which included one villa in another emirate, police said. The members of the gang, disguised as beggars, knocked on the doors of villas during iftar, and when no one answered entered the homes and carried out their crimes.

"None of the neighbours reported any of the beggars, which is what made it possible for the criminals to carry out their crimes," said Lt Col al Merri. The men stole jewellery, cash and electronic equipment worth more than Dh3 million from villas in various parts of Dubai, including Al Qusais and Jumeirah.   The last of the five break-ins was reported in Nad al Hammar on August 23; items worth more than Dh1 million were stolen in that incident.

Major General Khamis al Mazeina, deputy head of Dubai Police, said homeowners should contact the police if they notice any beggars near their residences. "We have arrested many thieves in the past who were posing as beggars," he said. The case has been referred to the public prosecution.