Police launch special operation in response to spike in theft and robbery

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) launched a special operation in the capital Malé last night in response to a spike in cases of theft and robbery in recent weeks.

At a press conference this morning, Chief Superintendent Ali Shujau explained that the number of cases reported in the past two weeks had risen sharply compared to the previous five months.

Shujau, head of the central operations command, said that burglars had taken advantage of police officers being engaged in providing security during the recently concluded AFC Challenge Cup hosted by the Maldives.

Large amounts of cash and expensive items have been stolen from apartments in the capital, he added.

Police also expected a spike in theft and robbery during the upcoming World Cup and the fasting month of Ramadan, Shujau noted, advising the public to take precautionary measures.

Police officers will conduct targeted searches of areas in Malé and search vehicles as well as suspicious individuals after midnight as part of the special operation.

Vehicle checkpoints will be set up across the capital. As apartments on the first and second floors of large buildings were being targeted, police patrols will focus on preventing theft from such residences.

The special operation is being conducted jointly by the central operations command, investigation departments, forensic directorate, traffic police, and the Specialist Operations (SO) command.

The MPS has also advised the public to hide valuables such as phones, jewellery, and wristwatches and to properly lock doors at night. Businesses were advised against keeping large amounts of cash in shops or offices.

According to statistics from the MPS, 2,484 cases of theft and 291 cases of robbery have been reported so far this year.

A 46 percent spike in cases of theft was recorded in January this year compared to the same period in 2013.

Reported instances of theft had increased dramatically in 2012 compared to the previous year. While 4,734 cases of theft were reported in 2011, the number rose to 6,572 in 2012, which represented a 38 percent annual increase.

The figure climbed to 6,681 in 2013.

Robbery and theft currently account for roughly 50 percent of crimes reported to police.


Police commence special operation to confiscate dangerous animals

Police have today said they have started a special operation to seize all dangerous animals that are illegally imported to the country.

In a statement the police said they had commenced a joint special operation with the relevant government institutions after having noticed that sightings of such animals on streets and other places had become common in the Maldives.

Police said that aim of the special operation was to seize all these animals and take them under police charge before a regrettable incident occurs.

Furthermore, the police stated that the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Fisheries Ministry, customs and the Maldives National Defence Force were all involved in the operation.

Police have also appealed to the public to inform police if they have any information by contacting the police hotline – 332 2111, the police emergency hotline – 119, or police Criminal Investigation Department – 963 1696.

On 16 March Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed met with Commissioner General of Customs Ahmed Mohamed and a delegation of senior customs official to discuss the increase in illegal animals being discovered during recent drug operations.

A police statement at the time reported that Waheed had told officials that citizens were now in constant fear, noting that the police did not have any role in the airports and other ports.

He also said that police now needed to conduct as many operations to confiscate illegal and dangerous animals as to curb drug related crimes.

Earlier in March, police discovered a royal python – a nonvenomous snake commonly kept as a pet – following a drugs raid in Himmafushi, Kaafu atoll, on March 4.

In a separate raid on March 7 police also confiscated a Kingsnake and a Mexican red-kneed tarantula from a house in Malé.

A slow loris was also discovered by police in a drugs raid in Malé in Januray 21.  It has been revealed this week that the ministry is considering destroying the animal after attempts to find a suitable home had failed.


Police to invalidate roadworthiness of vehicles that do not meet standards

The police have today said that they will start a special operation from January 1 to check vehicles to see if they meet the standards set by the Transport Ministry and invalidate the roadworthiness of vehicles that do not meet the standards.

In a statement issued today the police said that vehicles that do not meet the standards can only drive after correcting the issues with their vehicles.

Police said that the operation will be conducted in accordance with regulations made to test roadworthiness of vehicles made under the Act number 5/2009 Motor Vehicle Act.

According to the statement, during the operation police will check if the brakes work properly, if the silencer is modified to make loud noises, if the rear mirrors are installed and if all the lights work properly.

Police also said that they will invalidate the roadworthiness of vehicles that have black smoke coming out from the exhaust, vehicles that have installed loud sound producing tools, vehicles that have installed extra lights other than the ones that are there when the vehicle was bought, vehicles that have changed the colors of lights that are stated in the laws to be in a specific color and vehicles that leak oil.

Furthermore, the police reminded all drivers to see if their vehicles meet the roadworthiness standards required by the transport ministry.

Police have been advising drivers of vehicles that do not meet the standards to correct them during the traffic operations police have been conducting, the police added.

Police stated that the objective of the operation to check the roadworthiness of vehicles was to ensure the citizens that the roads are safe.

In the statement the police thanked all the citizens for their cooperation to police.


Police implements 100 day road-map to strengthen service

Police have established a 100 day road-map and have started implementing it in order to strengthen the work of police and to gain the trust of the people.

The road-map is based on four main strategies which seek to increase and enhance operational activities, conduct activities to curb crime, enhance and hasten investigations, and improve the police institution.

Police stated that when the road-map’s aims are achieved, they will be able to provide a safe environment for citizens, to gain the trust of the people and also to provide services to the people more closely. They also noted that it will make police officers more able to work using the available tools and established infrastructure.

80 percent of the investigations filed with police are intended to be completed and sent to the Prosecutor General’s (PG) office as part of enhancing and hastening investigations.

Police have also decided to conclude investigations into crimes other than those of a serious or organised nature in 30 days.

In addition to this, police have said they will share their data link with the Drug Court, the Criminal Court and the PG’s Office.

To achieve the second strategy – increasing and enhancing operational activities – police will follow proactive policing to determine criminals before they commit the crime and conduct intelligence-led special operations.

During the 100 days the police will increase the amount of CCTV cameras in Male’ to 150 and install cameras in Addu City at five different locations.

To accomplish the strategy to curb crime, police will conduct campaigns to raise awareness and to protect victims of child abuse, and will print out leaflets to make people aware of crimes. It will also launch a handbook about the work of the force’s forensic department.

Police said they will also conduct programs to train boat captains, to open job opportunities for youths, and to establish a crime prevention committee.

The road-map also includes sending officers abroad to learn to research ballistic evidence and introducing new ways to investigate complaints about police officers.

Furthermore, building 10 more cells in Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial centre where persons arrested for investigation are detained and building a detention facility for minors were included in the 100 day road-map.

Police have also decided to conclude testing of suspicious drugs within three days and to conduct three special operations to curb the illegal businesses of drug and alcohol.


Police appeal for public assistance in locating stabbing suspect

Police have appealed for public assistance in locating a person identified as Sharufan Abdul Razzaq Ahmed, 19 of Lonumidhilige [house] in Maafannu Ward.

On May 27 police issued a statement informing the public they were seeking to question Razzaq regarding a recent stabbing, but had been unable to locate or determine his whereabouts.

Police alleged that on May 18 at 3:25 pm  Razzaq together with some other persons stabbed two people near the junction where Chanbeyly Magu meets Haveeree Hingun.

Police said Razzaq was needed for the police investigation into the case, and stated that any person who disclosed information about his whereabouts would receive protection as required by law.

Local media has reported that the 18 and 21 year-old victims were hospitalised following the attack.

The 18 year-old received injuries to his chest, back and other parts of the body while he 21 year-old suffered injuries to his back.

The media reports say that Razzaq has a previous criminal record, after he allegedly entered Nalahiya Manzil House in Henveiru Ward in 2010 January with a companion and stabbed a person inside the house.

That case is now in Prosecutor General’s Office waiting to be forwarded to the court for trial.

Progess of special task force

Police have also said that the police special task force established to curb gang related crimes occurring in Male’ had arrested seven people.

Police said four were persons police were looking for in connection with a recent stabbing incident.

In a statement issued to update information about the special operation, police said they had searched areas related to gang activities 960 times, and stopped and searched 290 persons.

Police also established vehicle check points in different areas of Male’ and searched 651 vehicles. 29 licenses were held for traffic violations.

Police said they would continue to stop and search people out late at night, or on the streets in the early hours of the morning.

Police recently arrested 11 persons for alleged involvement in a stabbing attack at the ‘Home X’ store in the capital on May 19, that hospitalised one male victim.

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz  told local media that members of the taskforce were now searching for 50 “high-profile” suspects alleged to have had involvement with gang-related activities.

“They are a threat to the society. We consider everyone who has not been punished for a crime they have  committed as a criminal at large,” he was quoted by local newspaper Haveeru as saying.


Police deny arresting 50 Addu City residents prior to president’s visit

The Maldives’ Police Service has denied arresting approximately 50 people – primarily Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters – the night prior to President Mohamed Waheed’s arrival in Addu City yesterday (May 8).

President Waheed visited Addu to inaugurated the Hulhumeedhoo road development project,  open the Hulhudhoo pharmacy and inaugurate higher secondary education at Seenu Atoll School, according to the President’s Office.

During the ceremony for the former Dr Waheed “highlighted the importance of developing roads on the bigger islands for the development of the atoll. In this regard, the President said the government’s aim was to complete such developmental endeavors without any interruptions.”

Addu City Mayor Abdulla Sodig told Minivan News the night before Waheed’s arrival close to 50 people were arrested, “and about 90 percent of those taken in were MDP supporters”.

“The police knew who had been actively engaged in [MDP] demonstrations and targeted those individuals. Those who were arrested were having coffee in restaurants, standing having a chat outside, others were stopped at vehicle checkpoints. They were arrested for allegedly being ‘a member of a gang’,” he added.

A few of the individuals arrested were released after one or two hours, according to Sodig.

“People know this game because it was the game [former President Maumoon] Gayoom played. They know they were arrested because of Waheed’s visit,” Sodig said.

“Police probably purposefully did this negative campaign. But Waheed’s game has backfired. Families of the arrested individuals are really angry and frustrated,” he added.

As part of an ongoing police operation in Addu to “keep the peace”, “lots of people were taken into custody and were released after their information was collected”, the Police Media Official who spoke with Minivan News today (May 9) initially stated.

The official then refuted the statement, claiming that only one person was arrested in Addu City on May 7.

The official confirmed that being “arrested” and “taken into custody” have the “same meaning”.

However, a police media official told local media outlet CNM that “people assembled in groups and other suspects were taken in for questioning last night. He said that they were all released except for one who is being held for issuing a death threat to a policeman.”

Mayor Sodig explained that the Addu City Council was not notified about this ‘special operation’.

“Normally the commander(s) visit and explain the details when a special operation is going to take place,” Sodig said. “During last week’s fortnightly meeting [with the council] the police did not mention such an operation was planned.”

“The [city] council is gravely concerned by these developments,” Sodig told local media.

Approximately 30 were arrested from Hithadhoo Island, more than 10 from Feydhoo Island and around 10 from Maradhoo Island, all part of Addu City’s administrative district, according to local media.

These arrests were made under the “’Our Peaceful Addu City” operation, which has been continued by the police services to make the atoll “crime free”.

Police ‘star force’ out of control

“Addu City has the largest population outside of Male’ [approximately 35,000 people], as well as a very large land area, and so much is happening now,” Sodig explained. “We have to have a police presence not only in namesake or to run the desks, but enough to oversee the whole area.”

“Usually there are 15 to 20 police officers in each of the three stations in the area, however this is not enough, so we requested the police provide extra strength to increase numbers to about 30 per station,” he continued.

“The special operations team [responded by] sending their ‘star force’, but they don’t have their commander here. He’s not in control of this group or operations. Instead they are directly overseen by Male’ command,” said Sodig.

“That’s the reason why we don’t want them to continue,” he declared.

The task force consisting of 50 special operations police was started in January 17, 2013 and was supposed to end April 17, according to Sodig. However, the entire special operations force has remained in Addu City, targeting those allegedly involved in drug and gang issues.

“Dream on Waheed”: Sodig

During Waheed’s visit to Addu City, he stated that the Maldives not only has two ideologies – Islamic and anti-Islamic – but a third “ideology of unity” which was evident in Addu City.

He made the remarks after seeing a “Unity Jagaha” (campaign office) on Hulhumeedhoo Island in Addu, according to local media.

Last month President of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and former president, Maumoon Gayoom, claimed the Maldives was now dominated by people belonging to the “Islamic” ideology and those belonging to the “anti-Islamic” ideology.

Waheed also said that prior to his visit to Addu, “he had received information that a certain group was ‘very strong’ in Addu City, however, his team received greater support than he had expected.”

Waheed was informed that MDP support in Addu was very strong, but that’s not what he has seen, according to Mayor Sodig.

“Dream on Waheed,” Sodig declared. “He doesn’t have much support here, it is not close to [former President Mohamed] Nasheed, Maumoon, or [Abdulla] Yameen supporters.”

Sodig explained that paid government employees were ordered to receive Waheed at the airport, which is abnormal.

“This is the game Mamoon played during his [30 year] term,” said Sodig. “During Nasheed’s government this kind of thing never happened.”

“There were only 100 or 200 people to receive Waheed. There were some supporters from his united coalition with Adhaalath Party (AP) and Yameen supporters. However, people from all government agencies in the area, all paid staff, were told to receive him,” Sodig said.

“This includes senior government officials, senior civil servants – informed by the Civil Service Commission, all the schools’ senior management and non-teaching staff – issued a letter from the Education Ministry, southern utilities company staff, as well as airport and customs staff,” he claimed.

According to Sodig, currently 70 percent of Addu City’s electoral ‘dhaaira’ (constituency) are MDP supporters, and the party is close to reaching their goal of signing 80 percent of the population.

“At the moment, [we know] from door to door campaigning, MDP has more than a 60 to 70 percent support base, while 20 to 30 percent of the population is undecided,” said Sodig.

“In my area we only need 200 or 300 extra votes to reach that target [of 80 percent]. It’s achievable for sure,” he added.


Police arrest nine in Male’ during 24-hour special operation

The Maldives Police Service has said nine individuals were arrested during a recent 24 hour special operation conducted to try and curb crime rates in Male’.

In a statement, police said that the special operation, designed to try and make the capital more peaceful, was conducted between December 15 to December 16 – leading to the arrest of the nine men for a number of different offences.

Authorities have said that 359 persons were questioned in the capital during the operation, while 13 body searches were conducted over the 24 hour period.

Police reported that one case of theft, one case of robbery, three road accidents, one drug related crime and other seven cases were reported while the operation was going on.

Another key focus of the special operation was said to involve ensuring vehicles were being operated according to local regulations, law enforcement officials have said.

According to police, vehicle check points were therefore established at different areas of Male’ during the operation. 383 vehicles were checked during the operation.

Police stated that officers have also questioned individuals and groups deemed to be roaming around the capital without any purpose during the operation, which was conducted between Male’ City Police, Specialist Operations [SO] and Traffic Police.

Police powers

On December 4, during a press conference to give details of the investigation in to the death of late MP and Religious Scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz called on parliament members to not hesitate in giving more powers to the police. Riyaz said at the time that such powers were required to curb growing criminal activities within Maldivian society.

“I know that members of the parliament are hesitant to grant more powers to the police because of the political views they hold. But we need stricter laws to stop such acts from happening. Hesitance to grant more powers isn’t a solution for police discrepancies. Powers should be granted and at the same time they can establish a proper accountability mechanism,” he said at the time.

The commissioner said that police would have “zero tolerance” towards criminals and would utilise all powers and resources at hand in preventing crimes.

“That means, we will not allow a drunkard to freely wander around the street. Police officers will question suspicious people on the road and they have been given the order to stop and search anyone who they feel is suspected of being a criminal or carrying out a crime,” he said.


More than 150 searched in police special operation

Police stopped and searched 153 people during a 24-hour special operation launched on Saturday (December 15) to curb crime rates in the capital Male’.

Police said officers on patrol “questioned people out on the street late at night without a purpose” and monitored groups of people in various locations.

Article 47(a) of the constitution however states, “No person shall be subject to search or seizure unless there is reasonable cause.”

Police meanwhile said the operation is set to continue in the future to “make Male’ secure.”

At a press briefing in October, Assistant Commissioner of Police revealed that officers on patrol after midnight questioned 2,930 individuals in a few weeks and prepared their profiles.

The Head of Central Operations Command explained that police have been “questioning people awake and out on the street without a purpose after midnight” as part of the ongoing operation to curb crime in the capital.

Saudhi also claimed that the government’s decision to revoke licenses of businesses to operate 24-hours has led to a decrease in the crime rate.

In October, police requested the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) press criminal charges against a pair of 18 year-olds for refusing to submit to a search by officers on patrol.


Detained army deserters say no rights or amenities provided

Servicemen who had deserted military service were found and detained yesterday by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) under a special operation carried out by military police.

According to Haveeru, an army spokesperson said the servicemen were not arrested but were being held at MNDF centres with full amenities and a requirement to remain inside the centres.

The spokesperson said the army was awaiting orders from the legal department regarding penal procedures.

A serviceman held at MNDF centres have said they are not in fact receiving necessary amenities, Haveeru reports. The serviceman claimed to have a civil agreement with the armed forces protecting him from detainment in violation of a civil agreement.

An army spokesperson denied the serviceman’s claim.

The search for servicemen who deserted the armed forces is being continued, although the number of servicemen missing has not been confirmed.