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Don't forget to lock your doors

by michael April 24 2008
Municipal news

Are you sitting down? Jerusalemite has just learned of something so shocking, so surprising, that it may well reorder your understanding of reality. If you choose to stop reading, to remain in a world you find safe and familiar, however false it may be, Jerusalemite understands. You, dear reader, have been warned.

It turns out, as a recent Haaretz article reveals, that when developers build neighborhoods of sprawling luxury apartments and sell the apartments exclusively to wealthy foreigners who use them as vacation homes, leaving the neighborhoods completely empty of residents for much of the year, that the vacant apartments, filled with all the comforts of a high-class home, become...targets for thieves.

Who could have predicted this?

Not the Jerusalem Police, in any case.

Jerusalem Police say the number of house break-ins in the capital has been decreasing steadily since January, down 17.6 percent to "just" 900, from 1,100 during the same months last year. But that is cold comfort to the wealthy French and British Jews who bought apartments here for holiday visits and are increasingly targeted by gangs of thieves.

In recent years, many foreigners have purchased apartments in Jerusam's upscale neighborhoods, which stand empty most of the year awaiting their owners' arrival. The wave of foreign real estate investment, which caused a steep rise in city apartment prices, created a considerable number of "ghost streets," where few people live year-round.

"All the apartments in our building that belong to overseas residents have been burgled," a neighbor said this week. "The latest break-in even took place in broad daylight. The thieves claimed to be workmen there to replace windows. Only later did we find out they had broken in to the house." 

One of the streets that has fallen prey to burglar gangs is Alkelai Street in the picturesque Talbieh neighborhood. One building has had four apartments burglarized within a six-week period.

All that money, and nobody thought to set aside a bit of it to pay for year-round security.

The police department, for its part, deflected criticism of the rash of thefts by holding a press conference in which District Police Chief Aharon Franco announced, his face shining with childlike wonder, that the city's police had just ascertained that the grass was green.

Photo of luxury neighborhood Kfar David courtesy of Magister from Wikipedia

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