Beware — beggar at your door could actually be a thief
January 9, 2019 | 9:18 PM
by Times News Service
The warning comes after the Royal Oman Police announced on Wednesday that it had busted a gang of expats involved in stealing from apartments after pretending to be beggars. -File photo

Muscat: Residents should be cautious of criminals disguised as beggars, said an official from the Ministry of Social Development.

“Criminals can take advantage of people’s kindness and use it as a technique to enter their homes,” said Hamoud Al Mandhari, Director of the Social Development Department in Seeb.

“It is very easy for criminals to knock on the door, pretend to be beggars and ask for help. Once they are welcomed inside the house, they then examine the house, look for exit and entry points and return at a later date to rob the house.”

The warning comes after the Royal Oman Police (ROP) announced on Wednesday that a gang of expats was arrested for stealing from apartments after pretending to be beggars.

“Four women and two men of Arab nationality were arrested on charges of theft from apartments in wilayats Seeb and Bausher,” the police said.

A source in the ROP said that the gang members “would knock on doors pretending to be beggars. If they were sure that the house was empty, they would break open the door and burgle the house,” the police added.

With regard to the types of beggars in the country, Al Mandhari said: “Beggars vary from people who have illegally entered the country to those whose residence permits have expired and other cases where they are actual criminals pretending to be beggars.”

Al Mandhari, who is also the supervisor of the phenomenon of begging in Seeb, said, “We continuously try to increase people’s awareness and knowledge about the effect of begging, one of which is the negative effect on security. People should not entertain a strange person simply because he/she gives them a sad life story.”

“We have asked the public to help us tackle this issue by immediately reporting any begging incident either by calling the hotline which is 1100 or by calling the police who would then contact the anti-begging team.”

Last month, the ROP arrested a family on charges of begging, after it was found that they were harassing female car drivers.

According to a police report, the family came to the Sultanate on a tourist visa and would target cars being driven by women, asking them for money. The Ministry of Social Development announced that a total of 487 people were arrested for begging in the Sultanate from April to June 2018.

Of the 487 arrested, 452 were expats and 35 were Omanis. Overall, the age group with the most arrests was between 18 and 40, with 236 arrests; females accounted for the majority of arrests in both the under 12 and the 18-40 categories.

Under Omani law, begging is illegal; this also includes adults who use children to beg. “Anyone using children to help with begging shall be punished with imprisonment of three to 36 months and a fine between OMR50 and OMR100,” the ROP warned.

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