Shoe thefts at mosques 'distract' worshippers

Shoe thefts at mosques distract worshippers
Everyday after prayers many worshippers come out of mosques and discover that their shoes are stolen, leaving them to go home barefoot.

Sharjah / Ajman - Shoe thefts during Taraweeh prayers raise concerns among worshippers at mosques in Sharjah and Ajman.


Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Sun 12 Jul 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 12 Jul 2015, 7:06 PM

The holy month of Ramadan is the month of worshipping, giving, loving, family gatherings and spiritual activities, but unfortunately some people exploit it for illegal activities such as thefts. Even more appalling is the fact that shoe thefts have become common during Taraweeh prayers at mosques.
Everyday after prayers many worshippers come out of mosques and discover that their shoes are stolen, leaving them to go home barefoot.
Residents of Sharjah and Ajman, especially those who have been victims of such thefts, have expressed concern and urged the police to increase patrols during Iftar and Taraweeh prayers at mosques, shopping areas and restaurants.
Gada Mamoon, a worshipper, said that she comes to mosques wearing old shoes or slippers and keeps another set of spare shoes in her car just in case if she is unable to find her shoes. "I don't know who steals shoes during such a holy month, and what they will do with it? It is something weird."
Another worshipper Ahmed Adam said that his Nike shoes were stolen once during last Ramadan, but this Ramadan, he comes to mosques to offer prayers wearing old shoes or slippers, because he says he is sure the shoe thieves "will not like these shoes".
Businessman Amin Al Marzouqi said: "I don't miss my prayers at the mosque, but these shoe thefts are irritating me. I should not say this, but it is a fact that even while praying, I keep thinking whether I will find my shoes where I had left them."
"Since the beginning of the holy month, I have lost two expensive pairs of shoes in Al Sahaba Mosque and King Faisal Mosque and I had to walk barefoot to my car parked far away," Marzouqi complained.
Thefts of mobile phones from restaurants, of valuables from cars, and of shoes from the mosques during the holy month have raised serious concerns in Dubai and Sharjah, officials say.
Despite intensive efforts being made by the Sharjah Police to curb crimes, more than 20 thefts have been reported in Sharjah during Ramadan.
According to police sources in both the emirates, most of the thefts reportedly took place during the Iftar and Taraweeh prayer time from cars parked outside mosques, shopping malls, hypermarkets and supermarkets, restaurants and cafes.
An official of Sharjah Police said: "The thieves exploit the time when people are offering Taraweeh prayers to steal shoes and valuables. They target restaurants as those who are fasting are in a hurry to have their Iftar on time. Thefts of valuables from cars have also been reported from markets and shopping areas around the same time."
He added that the thieves target cars, mobile phones, ladies handbags, wallets, jewellery items and other valuables. A Sharjah government employee Ameer Rajab said he lost his shoes on two occasions while attending the Taraweeh prayers. "This happened at the Khan Sahib Mosque in Sharjah," he said, adding that ever since he has been offering prayers only at the King Faisal Mosque, although the mosque is quite far away from his home.
The Sharjah Police official said: " We have intensified patrols during Taraweeh prayers around mosques to prevent the thefts of shoes and valuables in cars parked in the parking lots of such mosques. The police have also been coordinating with the authorities concerned to improve the lighting of public parking areas around mosques and market places. A campaign to raise public awareness about not leaving valuables inside vehicles is also being carried out by the Public Relations and Moral Guidance Section of the police."
Theft incidents decline
The number of shoes and valuable thefts during this holy month is less than that of last year as a result of surveillance cameras and increase in police patrols and undercover agents who are always on the lookout for suspicious movements.
He said police patrolling has been increased in crowded areas, especially near mosques, in order to prevent such thefts as well as also keeping the traffic on the area organised.
He pointed out that 70 per cent of cases were reported by people and 30 per cent were detected by police patrols monitoring the areas.
According an Ajman Police official since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, undercover cops have been deployed at the gates of mosques during prayer times.
However Sharjah and Ajman Police, who have recently succeeded in arresting culprits red-handed, have learned that the stolen shoes are being copied and sold in markets abroad. "The thieves confessed to the police that they were stealing only expensive shoes with unique designs not available in the UAE markets," said the police source. Police have instructed imams to arrange closets with locks at mosque entrances and to advise worshippers not to wear expensive shoes when coming to pray.

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