x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Residents call for more security over burglaries

Residents at Al Reef Villas are stil plagued by break-ins, months after the community's developer pledged to boost security at the complex.

The Al Reef Villas development in Abu Dhabi, near the airport, is being plagued by burglars.
The Al Reef Villas development in Abu Dhabi, near the airport, is being plagued by burglars.

ABU DHABI // Months after the developer of Al Reef Villas promised to increase security measures, residents say break-ins have not stopped in the gated community.

More than a dozen attempted burglaries in March prompted the developer, Manazel Real Estate, to increase the security presence to more than 35 guards and provide them with golf carts for patrolling.

More cameras were also installed at the community's gates.

The crimes dropped off for several months. But in the last few weeks, residents have reported a sudden increase. Earlier this month, a small amount of money was taken from a residence after a thief broke in through the villa's sliding back door - the same mode of entry used in almost all of the reported cases.

The victim, SM, said the lock on her door was broken during an attempted burglary about four weeks ago.

"I know exactly when it happened because I personally locked the door myself," the Briton said. "There had been a significant time lapse and it all had all died down, so I didn't even really think about the break-ins."

Saeed Al Jabri, general manager of Manazel Specialists, said the developer intended to install motion detectors and more lighting in the coming weeks. A plan to build higher walls around residences has also been submitted to the municipality for approval.

Working with residents was key to ensuring the community was safe and secure, Mr Al Jabri said.

"The summer is very much near and we are committed to educating people on how to protect their homes when they are away," he added.

But residents complain that the developer is not doing enough.

Al Reef, a residential community on a 1 million square metre plot of land off the E11 motorway, backs on to an expanse of sand adjacent to Abu Dhabi International Airport. The border is not regularly monitored, residents said, adding that entry to the complex was easy from the rear.

"The back of the community is totally open," said JK, a resident. "Anyone can just walk in, and there are no cameras there."

Manazel was working to clearly define the property line and might erect a fence to keep out unwanted visitors, Mr Al Jabri said.

Most residents have already taken matters into their own hands.

"Almost everyone has put a block of wood into the sliders on their back doors because the lock system is very easily broken into," SM said. "How ridiculous is that?"

Earlier this year, several residents reported broken locks or scratched door frames on their rear sliding patio doors. The thief always appeared to try to break in using what the police told residents could be a screwdriver.

At that time, the burglaries appeared to follow no pattern. They started in Mediterranean Village, one of four villa clusters at Al Reef, and moved on to Arabian Village.

Some residences were targeted at night or early in the morning, while others reported the break-ins in the middle of the afternoon.

The police and CID have launched an investigation but no arrests have been made.

Mr Al Jabri said Manazel was encouraged by the decrease in incidents in recent months.

"Before, we had three or four incidents in a week," he said. "Security is very important to us. We want to reach a point where there are no burglaries at all in Al Reef."

Manazel is collaborating with other regional developers to share security tips and conduct educational workshops on community safety.

jthomas@thenational.ae