With Economic Challenges, Robbers on Prowl in Addis

Feb 6 , 2021
By Eden Sahle

In a city like Addis Abeba, breaking and entering was always bound to be frequent given that there is wealth inequality. The troubling structural economic conditions, coupled with the adverse effects of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may have made matters worse.

A few weeks ago, my family was a victim of robbery, joining the pool of citizens reporting property crime and violence that left them physically and psychologically injured. Although we did not lose all that much property, previous reports of similar crimes were cause for alarm. More guards have been hired in the neighbourhood now, and the local police authorities – in Bole District near Addis Abeba International Airport – have assigned officers that make rounds in the area day and night.

Credit is due to the police. They conducted regular community meetings and checked on the civilian guards to ensure that they remained alert during their duty shifts. They went door to door, asking about security concerns and making sure everyone in the area feels safe.

This is not the case in every district, nonetheless. Friends and relatives that reside in places like Megenagna, Ayat, Sarebet andQera do not have similar engagements with their local police. Some have resorted to acquiring weapons to protect against intruders breaking into their homes and vehicles.

Just last week, a friend had his house broken into by men in the Ayatarea, also in Bole district. They jumped over the fence and detained their guard. They headed to their living room, taking out properties and moving it to the truck they brought with them. As they were inside the living room, the guard managed to free himself and call for help by blowing a whistle. With household items already loaded off by that point, they drove off.

The longer such problems persist, the more emboldened organised crime will be. The city administration must recognise this serious challenge and nip it in the bud.

As communities work together to improve surveillance and to enhance safety, police should step up preventive measures. Areas and neighbourhoods known for the predominance of crime should be prioritised equally as those areas known for safety to offer help where it is required.

The frequency of premeditated crimes in an increasingly dangerous number of ways and in several parts of the city should be cause for alarm to law enforcement bodies. Before now, a robbery was perpetrated by individuals using unsophisticated gear to break and enter. It has evolved now to the point where they make use of vehicles.

Crime cannot be eliminated, but its rate can be reduced, especially considering the higher level of poverty in Ethiopia, where about a fifth of the population lives under this designation. This is not something that law enforcement bodies would be capable of addressing on their own. Crime is not merely just a consequence of failing to put more boots on the ground. It is as well a matter of failing to address economic inequalities within society. Here, nothing will ever be a good enough substitute for reducing unemployment and underemployment.

But law enforcement bodies also ought to recognise that the burden of protecting lives and the properties of the city’s residents lies on their shoulders as underlying economic problems are addressed. They should step up the task of developing approaches to combat crimes and keep the public safe. They should actively and effectively execute prevention systems in collaboration with communities who are doing more than what they should be expected to.

The key benefit of law enforcement is to reduce criminal activities and assist victims of crime while making sure law and order is respected in all areas. Given the extensive range of causes of crime, preventive measures addressing the fundamental triggers can have a tremendous impact on public safety.

Timely intervention can prevent additional costs for the city and offer strong protection for the public. The more robbery patterns are put to an end sooner than later, the more criminal activities can be stopped before they cause harm. There is no better way of doing this than engaging the community in law enforcement efforts.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 06,2021 [ VOL 21 , NO 1084]

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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