Thieves target women shoppers in Ajman

Thieves are targeting women who are out shopping by claiming there is a problem with their car before stealing the victim’s handbag when they pull over to investigate, police have said.

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AJMAN // Criminals are targeting female shoppers by claiming that their car has a problem and robbing them of their valuables when they pull over to investigate, according to police.

There was a record number of such crimes reported last year, said Maj Ahmed Al Nuaimi, head of investigation at Ajman Police.

When female shoppers left their car to check the tyres or an oil leak, another person was waiting for her, he said.

“They open another door and steal her bag. The woman notices only when the person who first alerted her leaves without helping,” Maj Al Nuaimi said.

If a female driver ignores the criminals, they would slash her car tyres. A gang member would pretend to come to the aid of the driver, while an accomplice raids the car.

Maj Al Nuaimi also warned of criminals following people after they leave a bank after making a cash withdrawal, tailing them around town or even to their home.

“Some bank customers leave their money in their cars and go to buy items from a supermarket, or go home and leave it inside the car,” he said. “In this case, the thief who has followed them breaks the car’s window and steals the money.”

These scams are most common at the end of the month, when people receive their salaries, or during special occasions or holidays such as Ramadan and Eid when people are spending large amounts of money on groceries or presents.

Police officers are stepping up patrols and installing more surveillance cameras in the city centre and major shopping areas to catch the criminals as they wait to ambush their victims.

“Even the places where there were no cameras, we have installed cameras. In April we arrested more than 20 robbers who were from Asian countries,” Maj Al Nuaimi said.

The increased police presence has resulted in an 80 per cent decline in crime reports this year compared to the past two years.

Raising public awareness about crime through distributing leaflets at banks and shops, and informing security guards had helped, Maj Al Nuaimi said.

He also urged members of the public not to fall for the motoring scam and not to leave large amounts of money in their bags or cars.

roueiti@thenational.ae