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Public urged to watch out for pickpockets.

Abu Dhabi Beware of pickpockets, especially at public places such as bus stations, an Abu Dhabi police official has warned.

The warning came after a number of cases of pickpocketing were reported recently.

"We got several complaints about pickpockets, mostly from Hamdan Street area. A majority of the cases involved wallets being stolen from back pockets...," said the official, who asked not to be named.

"People should be cautious about their belongings at all times."

Some of the cases involve very small amounts of money, however, the victim ends up losing a tremendous amount of time and effort to have lost documents such as identity cards and driving licences reissued, he said.

Mohammad Israr, a Pakistani bus driver and a victim of pickpocketing, said that he has often heard about wallets being stolen from crowded waiting areas for buses, but didn't think it would happen to him.

"I was waiting for the bus at the bus stop close to the Lifeline hospital on Hamdan Street. A while after I entered the bus, I realised that my wallet was missing from my pocket," he said.

He immediately reported the matter to the police and alerted the bus driver as well.

Shortly after he returned to his office at a tour operating company, he got a call from an Emirati man saying that he found his wallet. "The good Samaritan told me he found my wallet in a garage in Umm Al Nar. He asked me about the contents of the wallet before returning it back to me," Israr said.

"Of course, only the money was missing," he added.

A Bangladeshi man, also a victim, said that he lost over Dh100 and important documents when his wallet was stolen at a bus stop.

"I was waiting for the bus on Electra road in a large crowd. Suddenly a group of men started pushing everyone creating a chaos and I lost my wallet," he said.

"That was a large portion of my salary," he added. General Maktoum Al Sharifi, director of the Capital police said that the number of cases received at the Capital police station is limited.

"From the beginning of 2010 until the end of July of 2011, we have only received 14 reports regarding pickpocketing in 19 months." Al Sharifi told Gulf News that it means incidents are not rampant.

He also added that the police are keen to put in place plans to limit pickpocketing and find those who commit the crimes. The police efforts have been fruitful and efficient.

He also called on bus passengers, especially women, to pay attention to their belongings. He said handbags must be closed so that they are not targeted by pickpockets.

The police are also planning an awareness campaign to limit any type of negative behaviour on the buses, Al Sharifi said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Sep 2, 2011
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