Dubai Police get smart to combat home break-ins

A hi-tech home security system allows police to monitor houses and villas when residents are absent

A hi-tech home security service alerting police in Dubai to crimes as they happen has helped slash burglary rates.

The sophisticated system links security cameras and motion sensors placed in homes with the force's control room, allowing officers to take swift action when intruders strike.

Dubai Police said the number of home burglaries were cut by two per cent in 2018 during a trial phase, but incidents were reduced by a further 13 per cent in 2019 following a wider roll-out.

Residents can sign up to a Dubai Police app to notify officers when they will be away for prolonged periods so homes can be monitored.

Homeowners can also track surveillance footage on their phones.

The technology was initially installed at 500 randomly selected homes in the Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Establishment in Oud Al Matina.

“This system has proved very effective,” said Lt Col Hesham Aljoudar, director of the criminal control department at Dubai Police.

“Before, some thefts only came to light after residents returned home from travel.

“The system alarms both police and home owners in cases of burglary or suspicious behaviour inside their house, as it happens.

“This allowed police to act fast.”

In 2018, police in Dubai recorded three house burglaries per 100,000 people.

During the home security development process, police held several meetings with tech companies to discuss best practices and how to make the system effective and user-friendly.

"It is important to prevent a burglary in your home before it happens."

Officers from the criminal control department compared the effectiveness of the Dubai trial to similar home security systems already in place in the UK, Hong Kong and America.

After that success, 5,000 more homes were signed up to the crime-busting scheme last year in Mirdif, Hatta and elsewhere.

Although total crime figures to include home break-ins were not available, numbers are understood to have increased exponentially as more residential complexes have been completed.

Some areas of Dubai saw a spike in petty crime in 2019, including the Arabian Ranches Two area.

Police and Emaar ramped up security measures in the Casa area of the community, after residents reported several burglaries in October.

Authorities said once a burglary is suspected, residents should not stop to check their belongings or inspect what is missing, but immediately call police.

Any delay can compromise evidence left behind at the crime scene, officers said.

Other police tips to aid an investigation are to immediately document related information and write down the names of those with access to the property.

Police held several meetings with developers in order to have new constructed buildings and homes signed up to the security system, with 300 more Dubai homes due be equipped with cameras.

“Home thefts are not a major security concern to us because they are not widespread,” said Lt Col Aljoudar.

“Despite this, we are still working hard to spread a culture of prevention.

“It is important to prevent a burglary in your home before it happens.”

Home owners can select from a variety of different security packages for police to install, depending on their needs.

The larger the home, the more cameras and motion sensors are required and the greater the subscription fees paid to Dubai police.

Cameras can be connected to the police operation room to monitor a home if its residents are away for any length of time.

Registration can be completed via the Dubai Police app in the home security sub-section, although the system only currently applies to villas or houses.

“The challenge is convincing owners of old homes and buildings to register for this system,” said Lt Col Aljoudar.

“In our experience, the majority of home burglaries are carried out by acquaintances of the resident.

“Some burglaries are carried out by gangs who come to the country specifically for that purpose, but that is rare.”