Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crime, Again, specifically PDO crime

If you live here in Muscat, you are likely aware of the existence of the Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) camp. The PDO camp is a housing compound for senior PDO staff, both Omani and Expatriate. It's a 6 square kilometer slice of 1975, alive and kicking in the heart of Al Qurm. It's an absolutely gorgeous little community, with sidewalks, tree lined streets, and teeny tiny houses sitting on well manicured lots. It's a bit like Aramco in Saudi, and really really similar to Awali in Bahrain.

The Camp was built in the early 70's and consists of four or five types of small bungalow or town home type houses, interspersed with apartments and serviced bachelor accommodation. Unlike Aramco, PDO camp is open to the public, and they maintain a public beach which is open to anyone, next door to where the SAF club used to be. It's a really popular place for people from all over muscat to drive, exercise, picnic or hang out and watch the world go by.

One of the things that makes the camp so charming, and makes it such a desirable place to live, is the fact that unlike the rest of muscat, the houses are not secured behind giant, individual spiked walls. The whole place feels welcoming, friendly and safe. If you have not been to PDO, I encourage you to go and enjoy a walk through the neighborhoods, and a chat with the local residents. I wish all of Muscat were planned as well as PDO was.

Unfortunately, just like in all of Muscat, things are changing. The PDO camp has been the scene of 10 house robberies and 3 car thefts in the last four months. Most of these have occured while the victims were at home, asleep, in the house.

I can understand if you, the reader who lives in a shithole like North Al Ghubra, feel unsympathetic. Who the fuck are these guys to be living in the best real estate in the entire country, simply by virtue of where they work? but I don't think anybody should have to feel so totally unsafe in their own homes.

The response from PDO management has thus far been appalling. In an email forwarded to me, Mohammed, the head of Security for PDO pretty much said that what's happening on camp is normal for muscat, it's probably the housemaids, and that the staff who live off camp don't get security enhancements, so why should the staff who live on camp? I have to say, If i was in his Job, and this stuff was happening on my watch, I would resign, providing the guys in charge hadn't fired me by now.

Anyway, all of this Prompted me to ask, what exactly is normal for Muscat. Thanks to an alert commenter on another Blog, I was able to access the fantastic annual yearbook produced by the Ministry of National Economy, which includes, Joy! crime statistics.

Feel free to look at the report yourself, it's here:

I had a look, and here's what I found. This crime rate is NOT NORMAL.

In summary:
The incidence of recent burglaries in PDO are ~400% higher than in the Muscat region for 2008.

The incidence of car thefts in PDO are ~1500% higher than in the Muscat region for 2008
Data on ROP convictions indicate it is 2-3 times more likely that these crimes are being committed by Omanis than by Expats.

PDO Houses are by design far less secure than equivalent houses outside camp.

Many recent house intrusions have been while residents are asleep in the house. This is rare elsewhere and indicates a significant risk to people, not just property.

Want to know the details? Read below.

From information provided by camp residents, there have been at least 10 house robberies and 3 cars stolen from PDO camp in the 4 month period between 1st November and 1st March.

For the entirety of the Muscat Governate, the total number of robberies reported to the police in 2008 was 4,085 (this includes car break ins, wallet thefts, and other types of petty theft). The number of Car thefts reported in 2008 was 340.

The total number of housing Units on PDO camp, including apartments, is 447 units. Being generous and assuming 4 occupants per unit of housing, the population of Ras al Hamra is assumed to be just under 1,800 people.

The total population of the Governate of Muscat in 2008 was 834,760, with a population density of 214 people per square km, PDO camp has a somewhat comparable population density of 294 per square km. The Muscat Governate stretches from past Al Hail, all the way down the coast beyond Quriat.

For the sake of comparison, we took the total numbers for crime from 2008 in Muscat Governate, and divided by 3 to get a representative sample covering an equivalent 4 month period of time.

Based on total area, population density, the number of people, and the reported crimes in Muscat and RAH, residents of PDOCamp are 4.8 times more likely than the average person in Muscat to be the victim of a robbery, and 17 times more likely to have a car stolen than elsewhere in Muscat. Going by population alone, residents of PDO camp are 3.4 times more likely to suffer a robbery, and 12 times more likely to have their car stolen.

Even if the crime over the last four months is the only crime all year, PDO camp is still significantly above the ANNUAL average for all of Muscat. Regarding the use of 2008 statistics; I find it hard to believe that there has been a massive wave of burglary and car theft causing the statistics for the entirety of Muscat to expand by 5X and 17 X respectively.

It's worth noting that during 2008, Expatriates were convicted of robbery 390 times, and Omanis were convicted of robbery 674 times. Expatriates were convicted of car theft 11 times, whereas Omanis were convicted of car theft 36 times. One can conclude from these conviction statistics for 2008 that statistically it is 2-3 times more likely that the crimes are being committed by Omanis. Given these numbers, the idea that the housemaids and gardeners are behind all the thefts is possible, but unlikely.

More on this subject tomorrow, where we will discuss why the obvious solutions to this situation are not being employed, and revisit the issue of the Minister of Tourism and how she got the prime real estate on which she is building her new house.

It's related, I promise.


Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

As a former PDO brat, gooooooooooooOOOO Ras Al Hamra, yeah, whenever it was the maid or the gardener, we knew. Small things would go missing, like personal items, and then cash, right before a contract ending. Like abaya craft crystals being stolen, or men's razors, and little earrings, ect.

For real big thefts, many houses in our neighborhood were hit, but never ours. Our house was left alone as much as any other house... but the difference was....we had a dog. Not a nasty fang-barring one, but a dog nonetheless.

Most Omanis are a afraid of dogs. This is a generalisation (not all Omanis are) but the houses that had dogs were never hit for home invasions. And I am talking mini poodles LOL. Anyways, so that kinda eliminated most ex pats from these crimes, as most of us have no fears of mini poos. Workers are also afraid of dogs in most instances, but one's own employees are always easy to catch.

Maybe Mr. head of PDO security won't say so, but his brown-uniformed lads say different.

Cap'n Jack said...

The head of security should get the boot. His job is obviously 'security' therefore he should be arguing for extra measures to be taken not against. If it was my job, I'd be worried, unless I had something to gain from the activity of course.

Anonymous said...

Dark clouds are brewing over ras al hamra, a little bird told me that PDO has set up a dedicated department to manage the ras al hamra development, is it the original ministry of land grabbing proposal, or a newer PDO proposal, is any ones guess. But PDO management are going to announce this new development within 3 days.

Anonymous said...

I am a journalist with an English newspaper in Muscat. Would like to get in touch with you for an article on increasing number of thefts(?) in Muscat. Kindly send me an SMS or call on 96595057, if you are willing to provide some information and personal comments on the issue.