Saudi Crime for 20 June, 2006

The crime report from the Saudi Gazette today is full of automobiles — people stealing them or setting them on fire. Or being driven by 12-year-olds.

1) Police earlier this week foiled an early morning attempt in the Al-Khaladiah district to set fire to a late-model car in an insurance scam, the Arabic daily Okaz reported.

According to the report, the alleged arsonist was caught just moments before setting the car on fire, reportedly admitting that the car’s owner had paid him to douse the vehicle with gasoline and set it alight to claim the insurance money.

Okaz said the car’s owner, a teacher, had been having trouble with the vehicle and was not able to return it to the dealer and get the problem fixed. At that point, the owner decided to torch the vehicle and file a claim with his insurance company. The owner or the car, who was not named in the Okaz report, paid an acquaintance to destroy the car.

At around 3:00 a.m., the young man hired to burn the automobile arrived on a motorbike with a companion, opened the car’s unlocked door and drenched the inside of the vehicle with gasoline. Seconds before he struck a match, he was stopped by security patrols who had been tailing the two youths, alerted by what they believed was suspicious behavior.

Police are still looking for the other young man, who fled the scene on the motorbike

The owner of the car was arrested soon after, and initially denied all involvement in the plot. However, according to Okaz, he soon confessed.

In a separate series of incidents, Makkah police arrested one African youth suspected of participating in a gang that set fire to broken-down automobiles [I cannot speak to Makkah, but Jeddah was littered with abandoned cars, and for a time, the Gazette had a “Wreck of the Week” photo feature]. According to Okaz, police were monitoring the movements of three African youths who were wandering around Al-Mansoor District with a large can of kerosene. When the youths realized they were being followed, they started throwing stones at the officers. Two managed to escape.

2) The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Taif on Monday arrested the suspected leader of a car theft gang after monitoring his movements for an unspecified period of time, Okaz reported.

According to the report, the gang stole three cars – two of which were Toyota XVR sport utility vehicles – and then hide them in the rugged mountains of Al-Shafa. The suspect was arrested while driving one of the stolen vehicles, and handed over to police at the Al-Salaama station for further investigation.

Police are still looking for the remaining gang members.

3) Security men in Dammam on Monday arrested a thief who was suspected of robbing a businessman of SR240,000 at gunpoint last Saturday, Okaz reported.

The dawn arrest of the professional robber in District 8 brought to a successful conclusion an intense investigation by the city’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID), who also worked closely with security patrols over the past few days to apprehend the suspect after he initially escaping from police custody. [At least I think that’s what happened; the translation I got to edit was not clear.]

4) A special police task force arrested a number of people and seized weapons – including an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition – sorcery objects and talismans, and a number of knives as part of an 18-hour sweep through through the eastern part of Riyadh and portions of Rimah Governate as far as 120 kilometers from the capital.

According to an Okaz reported embedded with the task force during the raids, one Saudi man was found in possession of an AK-47 rifle and 30 rounds of ammunition, another was caught with an unlicensed “Shozan” firearm. The talismans, rings and other sorcery objects were found in the possession of a Saudi driver, who believed they would allow him to pass through checkpoints with ease. Nine citizens were also caught with knives.

During the sweep, security men under the command of First Lt. Fahd Al-Mattrafi also arrested eight suspects and five citizens who were not holding identification papers. Police also seized SR33,000 of unknown origin from expatriate workers. A man who transported illegal expatriate workers was also arrested.

Police also noticed in Rimah that some children under 12 years old were driving cars.

In addition, Okaz said the police also seized 11 unregistered cars. Ten Iqama violators were arrested while several others were detained for holding forged resident permits. Six forged passports were seized. Police also closed down an unlicensed cafeteria and two groceries and seized an unlicensed ice cream van.

The special task force carried out raids and combing of a number of locations starting with Al-Nadheem District in the eastern part of Riyadh and ending with the villages of Al-Rumahia, Traiq Al-Samman, Shuwayyah in Rimah.

Oh, and there were accidents, fires, mishaps, and the occasional untimely death too.

1) A muezzin at a Taif mosque died while calling believers to noon (Dhuhr) prayer on Monday, Okaz reported.

After the call to prayer was suddenly disrupted, residents in the district believed a problem had arisen with the mosque’s loudspeakers. However, as the first worshipers entered the mosque, they were surprised to find the muezzin prostrate in the sujood position. On closer examination, they determined that he was already dead.

2) A Somali woman was killed and another injured when the two were hit by an automobile Monday evening while trying to cross Bahra Road [in Jeddah, I think], the Arabic daily Okaz reported.

The two woman were returning from a vegetable shop when they were struck. One of the two women died on the spot amidst scattered pieces of watermelon and burst tomatoes on the road while a Red Crescent ambulance rushed the second woman to King Khalid National Guard Hospital, where she remains in critical condition. Security patrols halted traffic and dispersed inquisitive on-lookers.

In a separate development, a private vehicle and a Traffic Police car were damaged in an accident at Khalid Bin Al-Waleed Bridge intersection in Taif.

3) A 40-year-old Saudi national died when the roof of his house in Madinah’s Al-Seeh District collapsed Monday afternoon, Okaz reported.

Col. Sulaiman Al-Raddadi, Director of Civil Defense in Madinah, said that the dead man, identified only as A.A., was an unmarried, 40-year- old former vegetable market worker and native of Khaybar Governorate. Civil Defense officials are currently investigating the cause of the collapse, but noted the house was old and run down.

Al-Raddadi said that Civil Defense responded immediately to reports of the collapse, and 20 Civil Defense officials rushed quickly to the scene. The man, however, was already dead.