When Community Fails, Homes Get Broken

Feb 26 , 2022
By Eden Sahle

Last week, our home was looted in broad daylight, clearing everything we treasured. The master bedroom door was broken, probably using an axe as the police handling the case described.

My family lost property valued in the hundreds of thousands of Birr, including cash, jewellery, electronics, and sentimental belongings of my father, who recently passed away. The burglary was a massive emotional and psychological burden, not to mention a financial one.

We collected our fathers’ belongings and gifts in the master bedroom to honour him. We have now lost them. The robbery adds more agony to my family and me. The emotional shock of having our father's house ransacked in this way is upsetting and disturbing.

The callousness of the robbery was not as shocking as our neighbour's lack of sense of community. They were home when all of this was taking place. At first, when they heard loud knocking at our gates, they informed the unidentified suspects that no one was at home. Shortly after, when there were noises of things breaking, they somehow assumed we were doing this to our own house. They did not catch on even when they saw mean carrying household items out of the gates.

In such times, communities should rise to the occasion and help one another rather than ignoring a crime that would eventually come to them as well. My father was one of our community leaders who offered his helping hand whenever the community faced any tragedy during the day and at night.

Many communities like our neighbourhood are allowing crimes to thrive by, among other factors, lacking coordination. The justice system alone cannot fight such crimes that take place under the nose of the community.

The burglary incident came as another reminder of how deep my father's traumatic loss goes. We felt alone and disregarded by our community, who knew us from childhood and were supported by my father for years on several occasions.

Instead of our familiar community whom we relied on, we found police officers whom we came to know after reporting the crime were more helpful. They went past what is expected of them as law enforcement officers to be there for us at times of need.

They took hours comforting us while taking fingerprints and photographing the disturbing destruction of the crime scene as they inspected for evidence. They were the unlikely consolators. They told us that the memory of our father is not in the property we have regrettably lost but in our hearts and minds. They shared with us the tragedies they are being exposed to on a daily basis in a city where crime is going up.

As the police continue to do their investigation, we could not overlook the fact that the support from communities plays the most significant factor in protecting lives and properties at times like this. Reporting suspicious activities to the police can reduce crimes and harm to families and individuals.

Residential burglary imposes significant costs on the community itself and the nation because crimes do not stop somewhere unless we make them. The experience of being robbed is very traumatic, leaving a feeling of anger and being violated.

Being a good community member helps everyone. My father was one of the founders of a community watch group and hired guards to tighten the security. But it feels like in his absence, his years of hard work to make our neighbourhood safe became pointless because of communities who are not willing to take over and cooperate.

The risk of burglary can be reduced if we all logically do what is expected from us. Police officers say that security devices such as locks and burglar alarms effectively reduce the risk of burglary. Most importantly, they say the risk of burglary is significantly lower in neighbourhoods where the residents have a strong sense of community and look out for each other.

The police handling our case said neighbours are our first line of defence against crime as locks are not sufficient to provide total security. But only if communities step up can we all be safe.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 26,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1139]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com.

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