DUBAI // Six men have been arrested after a burglary spree on 70 villas in all seven emirates.
The gang of Chinese nationals stole jewellery, gold and cash they buried in the desert, Dubai Police chief Maj Gen Khamis Al Muzeina said on Tuesday.
Gen Al Muzeina said 17 of the break-ins took place in Abu Dhabi, 12 each in Dubai and Sharjah, 10 in Ras Al Khaimah, seven in Ajman, and six each in Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah.
Police said two men were caught prowling in Al Barsha, carrying a backpack full of tools used to break into villas.
They told police where to find two other gang members, Gen Al Muzeina said. The second pair said they had provided information on which houses to raid.
He said police raided a flat in International City and arrested the other two men, and found stolen goods and a map of affluent neighbourhoods.
Gen Al Muzeina said they led police to stolen items buried in Warsan and near Mohammed bin Zayed Road.
The six were referred to public prosecution.
The arrests follow those of two other burglary gangs this month after Dh15 million of jewellery was taken from villas, mainly in Dubai. Seven Colombians, a Mexican and an American were arrested.
Residents of Arabian Ranches, a luxury suburb of villas in Dubai, have increased security precautions because of the recent string of burglaries in their neighbourhood.
Customer relations manager Gareth Bacon, from Ireland, said: “We had heard through some of the forums about the burglaries so after about the third or fourth spate of them we decided to actually install reinforced locks on our doors.”
Mr Bacon said the robberies, which started about March, did not concern him at first, but having a new baby at home led him to him take extra precautions.
It was confirmed to be a good decision when his next-door neighbour had heard noises in the early hours of the morning. It turned out to have been an attempted break-in, as Mr Bacon found the back door had been tampered with.
“They had run away before my neighbour got downstairs,” he said. “Security have been really good and given us their direct number. We’ve seen more security patrols too. They seem to be taking steps to be more vigilant too.”
Ed Armitage, 22, a student who has lived in Arabian Ranches for six years, said he had seen increased security measures.
“I’ve always felt safe here, especially compared to back home in England,” Mr Armitage said.
“I’ve noticed at our gate, though, that there are signs warning people to lock doors and to be more vigilant, so I can only gather crime has increased. We’ve noticed increased security patrols than there used to be.”
Sarah Mahony, a British expatriate who has lived at the Ranches for nearly three years, said that with a young baby at home she had felt uncomfortable and has taken steps to secure the family home.
“We have invested in safes and they’re upstairs,” she said. “We don’t leave anything valuable downstairs that people could come in and grab, no handbags or wallets.”
Ms Mahoney said locks had been reinforced along with changes to lighting and generally a greater vigilance of all family members.
“Especially for women home by themselves, it can be worrying,” she said. “With a new baby this is only exacerbated. You have a different perspective as a woman and a mother than perhaps the men do.”
She said many neighbours had installed cameras and alarms, although her family had has not.
“You do get a little bit lax in Dubai thinking it’s so safe, which it generally is.”