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16 April, 2007

The great Dubai jewel heist

One of the most startling things to first time visitors to Dubai is the apparently lax security when it comes to jewellery shops. In most cities jewellers remove all the gold and gems from their window displays at night, lock it in safes, and pull down thick bars and grilles. In the sandlands, crime is traditionally so much lower (and rubies the size of hens eggs so ubiquitous) that no one really bothers.

Until now.

The other night two armed ram raiders burst into upmarket Wafi shopping mall in stolen cars and made off with an estimated several million dollars worth of jewellery. The heist was even captured on a video phone:

Hussain and Kambiz, two Dubai residents visiting the mall last night, told Gulf News: "We were shocked to see two sedans crashing in at very high speed at around 9.30pm, shattering the glass doors."

"There were four masked men inside. One car smashed the window of the jewellery shop, the men burst out ... They were all carrying guns and hammers. People started panicking, there was chaos everywhere. They took some jewellery and within minutes drove out of the mall."

Investigators at the scene said: "They were professionals ... They drove towards Zabeel where they burnt the cars."

In future, shop windows may have to glitter a little less once night falls.

Labels: ,


Blogger Photograph Abu Dhabi said...

Was actually quite shocked at just reading this story on Gulf News! One of the sorts of things you just never associate with Dubai and the UAE...until now! Be interesting to see what their punishment is if caught!

16 April, 2007 04:51  
Blogger ann said...

Gulf News quotes Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai Police Chief, as saying of the masked robbers:

"They are unlikely to be of Arab origin."

Now how does he know that?

16 April, 2007 08:10  
Blogger Grumpy Goat said...

What I don't understand is this morning's road block on SZR on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. According to Bitti Meex, cars were being stopped and searched at the front of a kilometre long queue of irate commuters.

My point is this. If you were a nefarious ne'er-do-well with a big bag of someone else's bling on your back seat, would you sit and queue to be arrested? Listening to the car radio is an excellent tip-off. I suspect that these "professionals" are rather too clever to be caught like that.

Naturally, I wish the authorities well in apprehending the villains. Ram-raids are on the list of things Dubai really doesn't need in its reputation.

16 April, 2007 08:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took the police almost an hour to cordon off the area... Who reckons the thieves were good and gone by then?
Time to "round up the usual suspects"

16 April, 2007 09:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the obligatory...
Lt Gen Dahi said the robbers emptied the front display of the store. He also said the criminals were unlikely to be of Arab origin.
Damn smart cop.

We ALL know that its only the non-Arabs expats who commit such daring crimes. Boyz from our hood are too straight for such blatant violations of the law!!


16 April, 2007 11:43  
Blogger S. said...

OMFG..!! What the heck is going on in Dubai..?

Well this is the usual for growing pains for any city. Just as I hear so many people say in interviews "We want to put Dubai on the map", I keep thinking to myself that youre going to be doing the same for the map of so many criminals.

Besides, everyone knows that Dubai has loads of money, lax security and that the rich and wealthy carry around oodles of cash with them. I can only say that muggings and robberies are going to increase as Dubai grows.

Dubai was safe for a long time since it was a small town, most people knew most people, and you couldnt blow your nose without someone noticing. As it grows, its going to get the same problems as any other major city the world over.

16 April, 2007 12:14  
Blogger Seabee said...

It's inevitable but sad that this is coming to Dubai isn't it.

It's all so new and unusual that the police are out of their depth with it all, they simply haven't experienced anything like it before. A road block on SZR, well publicised on the radio, twelve hours after the robbery looks like a show of force with very little real value to me. By the time that was set up they could have been in any of the surrounding countries.

16 April, 2007 14:38  
Blogger Earthbound Misfit said...

Of course, these thieves are not of arab origin.

Don't you guys know that arabs do no commit any crimes?

Its like when an arab blows up 50 innocents in Iraq he is a freedom fighter. When the Americans kill the Butcher of Baghdad they are evil oppressors

16 April, 2007 16:17  
Blogger Omani Jewel said...

i was shocked to read it too .. but how do they know that the thieves were not of arab origin.... why the arabs (i am one too) dont know how to steal ...such statements annoy me

16 April, 2007 16:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

will they have their hands cut off if caught?

16 April, 2007 16:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only jewellery stores show lax security measures - any place handling cash in a way or another in this coutry seems to be as easy to rob as my neighbourhood grocery (once i waited 5 minutes in the deserted store for the cashier to come back - imagine all the chewable tobacco I could have stolen during that time...).

Either the authors of this heist are fans of hollywood/bollywood movies or they are experienced thieves whith similar sting operations and therefore are unlikely people with GCC experience - but then i might be wrong. It reminds me more of heists, I have seen in western europe (like an attack on a money transporter with a rocket launcher).

Finally, something going on here...

16 April, 2007 20:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now thats why i call real development activity :)

16 April, 2007 22:43  
Blogger BuJ said...

hmm.. i don't get this "They are unlikely to be of Arab origin" fuss you guys are on about!

Why do people hang on the silliest of comments?

It's truly this racist subconscious that is so endemic in the area that drives both native and non-native to generalise according to race.

The authour of this quote is none other than the Dubai Police cheif, so he must had limited information on the criminals before he said such a comment.

Remember the police are usually pressurised into saying something as soon as a crime is committed. what the public don't know is that lots of police work (i.e. time) needs to be done before conclusions are made.

Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps the police asked the shop keepers what accent did the gang have, and maybe , just maybe, the answer of the shopkeeper was "non-Arab"?

16 April, 2007 22:50  
Blogger secretdubai said...

"they are unlikely to be of Arab origin"

Well that's obvious isn't it?

As we all know, every single Arab is born with an oil well dug in their back garden and lives in a palace of solid gold and drives solid platinum camels with diamond eyes. So why would they want to steal some tin from Wafi?


16 April, 2007 22:55  
Blogger taz said...

Cars stolen and hidden days before. Obviously staked out the gaff. Didnt get lost on the roads. Dumped the cars,changed back into the dish dashes and down the bar for a shisha waiving to the road block police on the way. Sorted. Couldnt possibly be of Arab origin. Course not!
Seriously though it's a sign of the times. If the police dont get their act together im off back to blighty after 15 years here. Theyve only had 6 stabbings in the last 3 weeks.
PS. Banks are next. Security. I dont think so.

16 April, 2007 23:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my question is.... how sad the guys dint use S8 instead of A8... and secondly... how did the stolen cars not get traced from the time they were stolen.. only if they had a proper security arrangement in dubai they would track the sloten cars and preven this thing .....
i am just waiting for the organised .. crime .. like cat burglers and .. jwel thievs of US and USA... to hit this place.. they will have a feild day...

17 April, 2007 00:08  
Blogger Tinsie said...

I just think it's a shame when robberies start happening in otherwise safe areas/countries. A real shame...

17 April, 2007 01:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cars must have been robbed just minutes before the robbery and both the cars were set alight and burnt after the robbery so no trace of DNA . This is 4th of 5 th organised crime to hit the jewellery bussiness in last 12 months . I hope they get caught and hope all the jewellers and the police upgrade their security system and measures

17 April, 2007 02:04  
Blogger BuJ said...

crime is to be dealt with by the courts, and politics is for the politicians.

only in the uae you find no distinction between the two. why can't people think using facts before starting to involve race, colour and politics?

as soon as i heard about the robbery i know it was going to turn into some us v them contest, which is so not the point.

dubai might be drawn up to be a utopia if you live in over-crowded london or over-taxed stockholm, but the fact of the matter is that we suffer from the same things you all suffer from all over the world.

let's wait a few weeks, see what the police come up with then make some conclusions. it's quite interesting that the gulf news website has not changed since it reported the first event. obviously they have been hushed.. so again.. the mixing.

17 April, 2007 02:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with roc

17 April, 2007 03:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, this is merely wild speculation, but this may be one of the inevitable results of turning a blind eye to the operations of the Russian mob in Dubai.

Did the authorities think that they'd be content with buying villas with Carrefour bags full of dirty rubles? With so much low hanging fruit with respect to security? It's like waving a red flag in a bull's face.

17 April, 2007 09:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

according to eye witness'es,

The Culprits were Tall and well built, NOT Fat round tommy, bald head and short!

So Cant be arabs!

17 April, 2007 09:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Police launched a massive hunt for the robbers who looted a jewellery store in Wafi City in a mere one minute and 45 seconds.”

This “massive hunt” involves arresting and accusing (no questioning involved) innocent people until 5am in the morning. Please note that Dubai Police consider people taking a picture with their cell phone inside Wafi City to be highly suspicious.
Well done boys, top investigation skills!

17 April, 2007 09:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is all sad - from the fact that the horrible crime occurred in the first place to the appallingly racist statement from the chief of police. Thank goodness no-one was hurt by the crime physically - especially the poor and, I am sure, very badly paid subcontinent guards. The hurt comes from the statement of the chief of police. An apology is due, even if it does turn out that they are non-Arabs. In the UK, Germany, France, the USA, or other countries, the phrase of the chief of police would merit a massive media campaign and his resignation!

17 April, 2007 09:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same Chief once said:

I quote: "All the Pakistanis are Drug Smugglers"

Someone please do the search and find the whole article.

Later, he re-tracted the comments and said: "Mis-quoted by press"

17 April, 2007 16:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, the owner takes a bad beat in the short term. But let’s see this event through the proper prism: the PR prism, remembering that Dubai has a reputation for making news to keep. A reputation for being edgy. "Ram raids" are exactly what Dubai needs, especially if committed by non-Arabs, which only goes to show you what a cosmopolitan city Dubai has become. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if these non-Arabs were hired by ambitious marketer working for the tourism-investment complex. I applaud these thieves.

17 April, 2007 17:11  
Blogger Jassim said...

They are too organized well to be arabs. My vote goes for Nigerians or Russians.

Although if they were Arabs, the perhaps Locals. Coz no one would ever suspect Locals.


17 April, 2007 17:39  
Blogger Jayne said...

The 'smash & grab' robbery is something more akin to what happens in South Africa & certainly not Dubai!
I wonder what odd the bookies will be getting as to what nationality the robbers were?

17 April, 2007 19:07  
Blogger Dubai Jazz said...

Well SD, let me put you out of your misery....
The fact that this was a 'Daring Rubbery' has narrowed down the possibilities to two type of people/nationalities...
1- Arabs...
2- Eastern Europeans...
They could never be Brits you know; remember how the so called 'Royal Marines' were pissing their pants while being dragged from their collars by the Iranians?
They couldn't be Asians either, as Asians are known to be peaceful folks..
However, the conclusive evidence that you failed to note (as usual) is that those guys were of bulky body-built (as an eye witnesses said)...
Could this be the reason that Lt Gen Dahi assumed their non-Arab origin??? you think it's a coincidence that most of non-American professional NBA players are of an Eastern-European origin?
I would suggest that next time you utilize what is left of deduction skills in the left hemisphere of your brain before spouting your irrelevant and not-even-funny comments....

17 April, 2007 19:43  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jewel Thief : Any one?

17 April, 2007 22:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oceans 14, anyone? Or would that be Sands 12?

18 April, 2007 01:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uh, this story is ridiculous. i've been to dubai. there is no crime there.

18 April, 2007 01:45  
Blogger gossipgirl said...

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peace betches,

18 April, 2007 02:11  
Blogger geoff said...

Wonder if the insurance premiums are about to have a growth spurt in Dubai?

18 April, 2007 04:02  
Blogger Expated in Dubai said...

Arabs thieves are too cheap, they would've kept the Sedans till someone reported an overly flashy car blinding everyone and causing accidents. Then they'd catch them wearing the bling-bling on every limb and appendage.

"Jewels? What jewels?"

18 April, 2007 09:18  
Blogger samuraisam said...

DUBAI JAZZ: "They couldn't be Asians either, as Asians are known to be peaceful folks.."

18 April, 2007 10:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh c'mon ... it's quite smart of chief to comment on nationality or origin of these guys ... after all they were professionals, did their job smartly and were good at what they did. I stand with Chief's comment. (Hint: Sarcasm inside)

Honestly, all the places dealing with wealth of any kind need to get their act together and beef up their security measures. Continuous vigilance is the key.

18 April, 2007 11:20  
Blogger Beckster said...

Wow, what an awesome blog. I work on a cruise-ship, and we're docking in Dubai on May 16th/17th. My father worked as a site-manager for Sheraton hotels in Dubai for a year before I was born, and my little sister was born in Bahrain while my dad was working there too. Thanks for the interesting articles, I still can't wait to come back!

18 April, 2007 12:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about "HOODWINKED 2"??

Arab, Not the usual suspect.

Asian, Cannot be them.

Sub Con, Too good to be the one.

Ok, lets hear it from everyone!

18 April, 2007 15:16  
Blogger Charlie Mitchell said...

I used to wonder about this when I was there (94 - 02). The gold souks, lit up with a million watts, shop windows just FULL of gold, and no crime to speak of. This robbery made the paper, I guess, because it is rather unusual. After a while,
I never worried about theft or crime of any sort when I was there.

18 April, 2007 18:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh God! Let it pleeeaaasee be Europeans so that we can take the trash out of our country... :)

18 April, 2007 21:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point here is not what the Chief of Police said. Its completely inconsequential to the entire case and such comments by him and others are likely to always be made.

What interests me is what Dubai is going to do about something which is almost inevitable as a part of its growth. It has just been a matter of time before such incidents started occuring.

What worries me is that I do not believe the Dubai Police actually has a plan or are focussing on the right things:

a. Only UAE nationals can be armed. Expats not allowed. If Dubai Police plans to improve security this has to change simply because of the lack of numbers.

b. The Chief of Police needs to stop his obsession with Arabic music channels. If he was more focussed on the security of the city rather than trying to close down music channels, maybe this crime could have been prevented.

20 April, 2007 20:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


21 April, 2007 19:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai ain't exactly Grover's Corner, UAE to begin with. But this crime is different from an everyday arms deal by the Creek in that it occurred in public, at a mall, the teat of the new nanny-state. It's worrisome.

21 April, 2007 21:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To some extent I agree with what S wrote. Dubai is growing so fast, and there must be a price the city pays for this fast growth.

This thread is full of racist comments against Arabs in particular; such comments seem to be a reaction to the statement made by Dubai Police Chief. I'm an Arab guy from a neighboring country, and comfortably say that I don't agree with Lt. Gen Dhahi statement, but I also can say that number of non-Arabs abused the statement to express their real feelings toward Arabs.

Grow up people, a city like Dubai is offering a golden opportunity for the human kind to demonstrate the co-existence, so let all of us take this opportunity and prove that what happened in Dubai touched us in a way or another, and show responsive ways of behaving.

24 April, 2007 07:14  
Blogger muneer mohamood said...

I think the wafi case is a pure drill of dubai police.. dont you feel that ....

07 May, 2007 13:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that is something to be expected. Rising crime rate is part of growth in any developing city. However, i think the police would have to do a better job next time, as growth is never an excuse for such barbarity.

28 July, 2007 21:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This lame drama was played by Dubai's own authorities, actually it was inside job.

12 September, 2008 01:24  

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