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July 17, 2012, Tuesday

Crime statistics for İstanbul

During the month of Ramadan, I look forward to evening strolls along the promenade with friends, including my three furry ones. Like us humans, my dogs, too, love all the scents and smells. Visitors to Turkey always comment on all the different kinds of food stalls.

Restaurants are busy and street food vendors are in abundance during Ramadan in the evenings. Regarding my piece “Some things to expect during Ramadan” (July 12, 2012), a couple of interesting comments were posted that you can read on the Web.

In recent years, there have been articles around this time about crime. It was encouraging to read that last year crime rates dropped during this time when so many people are out and about. Below are some positive facts from the article “Crime rate falls in Ramadan” that appeared in Today’s Zaman on Aug. 21, 2011. The facts and figures are from the İstanbul Police Department and compare the number of crimes committed between July 15-31 and the first two weeks of Ramadan, which began on Aug. 1, 2011:

36 percent fall in the number of murder cases

21 percent fewer assaults

34 percent fewer extortion cases

15 and 16 percent fewer burglaries of offices and homes, respectively

12 percent fewer purse snatchings

Overall, the article states that crime rate decreased 19 percent. You can read the full article to see how crime decreased over Ramadan in 2010 as well.

Sometimes by not taking precautions you can be inviting trouble into your home or car. Here is an example that happened while at a hotel. While I was at a conference near Kuşadası recently, one of the foreigners attending came to me and said that their child’s iPad had been stolen from their room while they were eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant in the main building. Naturally, when they returned to their garden villa, they were upset. Their family accommodation was in a building with two floors, and their suite was at the garden level. You could easily enter the apartment from the ground floor by window if windows were left open, and it seems that they had accidentally left a window open. In this situation, however, the iPad was returned. It turns out that one of their son’s friends had climbed in through the window and taken the iPad as a prank. After the family had searched everywhere and talked to the hotel management and conference organizers about the missing iPad, the child who had taken it returned it. It is easier than we think to climb in through a window.

Here is a letter from a reader whose spouse is a Turk, and she and her neighbors plan to be out late nearly every night during Ramadan.

Dear Charlotte: “I have been told that I should really get a security system installed with motion detectors and all [for] when we go out in the evening to break the fast with friends and family. I guess they are concerned because they have invested in the security system and think if we don’t, we will be burgled. Is it really such a problem or are people exaggerating?” From: Amanda (İstanbul)

Dear Amanda: I think for a while, since more people have begun to struggle as a result of the hurting global economy, globally speaking, theft has increased in most places. However, it seems that burglary and pick-pocketing may be decreasing in Turkey. It is better to be safe than sorry, though, so do take all precautions not to be burgled. Some people put bars on the windows and others choose to have alarm systems installed, just to be safe. I remember a few years ago when my Turkish neighbor, who is the owner of a carpet shop and has been to Mecca at least twice, had some beautiful, expensive carpets stolen from his home while he was out breaking the fast with family and friends. He strongly warned me to be sure to lock up tight when I leave and to always lock the door of the main entrance to the building. This is good advice for any time of the year.

Of course, dogs around the home are a great deterrent! You have probably heard the saying “If your dog doesn’t like someone, maybe you shouldn’t either,” originally said by an unknown childe (from the mouths of babes…). None of us like thieves!

Note: Charlotte McPherson is the author of “Culture Smart: Turkey” 2005. Please keep your questions and observations coming: I want to ensure this column is a help to you, Today’s Zaman’s readers. Email: [email protected]

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