Sunday,21 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1121, 8-14 November
Sunday,21 April, 2019
Issue 1121, 8-14 November

Ahram Weekly

Protection at home

More and more people are installing special protection for their houses against theft or burglary. But does it always work, asks Farah Al-Akkad

Al-Ahram Weekly

More and more people are using armoured doors and other devices as a means of protecting their homes against burglary or theft, which has been on the rise in Egypt. Even in well-secured areas, many people are facing such threats, and, in order to deter them, they have been installing armoured doors at the entrances to their apartments, company properties and villas. But do these doors actually make a difference?  
Mustafa Khamis, an armoured door shop owner, said that sales have been going up since last January. “Armoured doors make people feel safer,” he said, explaining that he sells many different-sized doors, their price varying according to size and durability.
On the other hand, Seif Al-Husseini, a homeowner, believes that armoured doors can give thieves more motivation to steal because they give the impression that the apartment or house contains valuable property.
Al-Husseini’s apartment was broken into last month despite its having both an armoured door and an alarm. “It never occurred to me that my apartment could be broken into in broad day-light,” he said. “The thieves entered the apartment through the wall.”
He lives on the 12th floor of an apartment building in the Mohandessin district of Cairo, and he was informed by neighbours that thieves had broken into his apartment just a couple of hours after he had left for work at 8am as usual. “In addition to my long working hours, I don’t live in the apartment all the time,” he said, adding that he travels a lot throughout the year. “The police told me that the break-in had been pre-planned and organised.”
Though he lives in one of Mohandessin’s busiest streets and in a large building where it can be hard to know who is coming in and out, Al-Husseini claims that responsibility lies with the doorman of the building, who failed to monitor who was going into it. “He was sitting there when the thieves entered, but he didn’t care to ask them where they were going or to see whom.”
It was only the sharp ears of Al-Husseini’s downstairs neighbours, who heard voices on the upper floor and called the police, that saved Al-Husseini from further problems. Unfortunately, the police arrived too late to apprehend the thieves, who had already finished their dirty job and were on their way downstairs.
Al-Husseini also complained that the police are not always prepared to act to stop the thieves. “Their reaction in my case was careless. They even told me that they couldn’t do anything about the thefts and that I should simply accept them as God’s will.”
The way the thieves entered the apartment — through the wall — is reminiscent of a famous Egyptian film from 1969, Lossous wa lakin zorafaa (Thieves but cute), in which prominent actors Ahmed Mazhar and Adel Imam break into a jewellery shop through a hole in the floor of the apartment directly above. At the time the film was made Egypt was a safer place, and such incidences occurred only in film scripts. Today, they appear to be happening in real life too.
Al-Husseini’s burglary has not been the only case in which thieves have broken into an apartment through the wall. In Nasr City, thieves broke into homeowner Dalia Al-Abd’s apartment last September, again through a hole in the wall. “I was on vacation with my family, and on my return I found that everything had been stolen from my apartment,” Al-Abd said.
She lives in a three-storey building with one apartment on each floor. The building does not have a doorman, something which she thinks gave the thieves their opportunity. It was easy for the thieves to enter through the wall, since in this case there was no one there to hear them. Al-Abd’s neighbours were travelling at the time as well.
Unfortunately, there was no one there to notify Al-Abd about the burglary, and she suspects that the whole thing had been planned in advance. “It was obvious that the theft had been planned at a time when neither I nor my neighbours would be around,” she said.
Because such incidents have been increasing, Ali Badawi, the owner of a security company, gave Al-Ahram Weekly some tips in order to reduce the risk of robbery. “First and foremost, armoured doors should be installed behind the original apartment door, because that way they don’t grab the thieves’ attention,” he said.
“Make sure the workers who install the armoured door are trustworthy. It has been reported that some workers were involved in a theft from an apartment in which they had just installed an armoured door,” Badawi said.
According to Khamis, doors vary in price. “The more expensive the door is, the higher its durability is,” he explained. Generally, prices range between LE2,000-15,000.
Whether you have an armoured door installed in your apartment or not, it is vital to be alert to the surroundings and to take necessary measures regarding any suspicious persons.
Let us hope that the current rash of burglaries is just a phase and that Egypt will remain a land of security as it has always been known to be.

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