8 Useful Tips to avoid Robbery in Saudi Arabia while you are on Vacation

Mr. Abdul Rizwan came back to his home after spending a vacation in his home country and found that his house was robbed. He has shared his experience with us with 8 useful tips to reduce damage such robbery attempts. So I walk back into my house in Riyadh after my month long vacation. My family is still back in the home country enjoying another month of holiday before schools reopen so I am all by myself dragging the suitcases inside the house. I had a long flight with zero sleep for almost 38 hours and hence crashed onto the sofa the moment I entered. Next morning, I walked up to my bedroom and unlock the door and behold the bright sunlight is shining on my face, it’s as if I opened the gates to the heavens. I can see the bright blue sky and the cat resting on my neighbor’s wall. I feel spiritual for a few seconds before reality hits me that my house has been burgled.[irp]

I reside on the ground floor of an apartment with window air conditioners. The robbers just pushed the air conditioner inside the house to gain access to the room. Luckily for me, I had left no valuables at home but they rendered the place like a storm hit it. Cupboards tore down, clothes taken out, they searched every nook and corner. Luckily for me, I had locked the door so they had access only to one room. They managed to take two old mobile phones and an old laptop and some loose cash (200 riyals) Since I had no valuables stolen I was in two minds whether to report it to the police or just fix things and move on, but I was advised to report by my elder brother. We visited the nearest police station and were advised there that our area comes under the jurisdiction of another police station. I believe it is important for every resident to know which police station falls under your area in case of emergencies. If you reside with family in Saudi, you and your family members should know;

  • Which police station falls under your area?
  • Which hospitals are open 24/7?
  • If you have kids, which hospitals have Pediatricians 24/7?
  • Have emergency numbers printed and pasted on a wall, during such situations people forget their names leave alone phone numbers of police. Recommended: Emergency Numbers in Saudi Arabia

My elder brother speaks fluent Arabic hence we were able to go straight in. The officer stationed at the entrance heard what happened and asked us to meet the Chief of the station. We informed the Chief of the station outright that we were the least bit interested in getting our things back but wanted to ensure that a complaint is registered so that they are aware what is happening with in the area. The Chief appreciated and agreed that many times people don’t complain hence they don’t have real facts and figures to take action. You may need to visit more than one police station as they have different departments for taking a complaint and another for field work. They follow the usual procedure of asking you things like your street name, building a name, number, flat number, your iqama id for the record, what valuables were stolen, when did you find out, who all live at your place. A few points however that need to be highlighted which we gathered

1-If you ever walk into your home and feel that your house looks as if it’s been robbed don’t go walking straight in, there is a good chance that the robbers are still inside. Take precaution; wait for someone to arrive to help you

2-If you can see a police patrol car outside your house, there is nothing better than informing them first to have a look inside

3-If the robbers are still inside they will do everything to escape and that means grievous injuries to you on their way out, so it is better safe than sorry, and always good to take help.

4-Inform the nearest police station and see if you can meet the chief of the station as he can direct his junior officers, without his approval, it will be difficult to get things moving

5-Take an Arabic speaker with you, it will be next to impossible for you to register a complaint if you go blazing in speaking English.

6-The process followed is once your complaint is registered they send investigating officers to your house usually on the very same day, who take pics and finger prints

7-You can now go about setting things back

Now yes many skeptics will state that it’s not worth the hassle but you have to understand the police go by numbers and statistics, every single area has weekly, monthly and yearly reports about the kind of crimes that are committed. The police are answerable to their superiors all the way to the top. The advantage is the cops become more vigilant to a certain area where they feel there are more robberies taking place. In addition to this, the way police have informers; even robbers have informers who tell them that cops have visited which will hopefully deter them from visiting that area again. Now coming back to safety and what to do before you leave for vacation[irp]

1-If you are living on the ground floor you better have a cage outside your window air conditioner which acts like a protective metal cover so that robbers can’t just push things and enter your home

2-I am told you can even get metal harnesses that you can install from inside your house so that a window air conditioner remains in place

3-If you have friends, request them to visit your house maybe once a week just to check on things

4-A burglar alarm will be the ultimate gadget to scare away robbers if they break in

5-These days CCTV cameras with Wi-Fi connection are quite affordable and this will help you keep a real time check on your house irrespective of where you are

6-Finally, and the most important thing, never leave valuables at home when you go out for a holiday be it even for a day. The way robbers work is they see if in this sweltering heat air conditioners are not switched on it’s a clear give away that the house is empty, this is compounded by the fact that summer vacation expats leave the country in hordes and many times complete buildings are empty

7-Don’t expect your Haris/gatekeeper to act like batman and protect your stuff while you are away. He is there primarily to keep the area clean and check on trespassers during day, not when he is sound asleep in his room with his air-conditioned masking all the sounds from the building

8-Finally, if you lose things, don’t lose heart. Things are replicable but life isn’t, you can always buy more things, but your health and safety are of more importance.  Be vigilant, stay safe.

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Steve has been living in Saudi Arabia since 2013 and writing about Saudi rules, regulations, guides, and procedures since then.