Karşiyaka – crime centre of North Cyprus

image showing break in

When we moved to North Cyprus nearly five years ago one thing that was emphasised was the minimal crime here. For the first three years I can safely say that crime was very low, particularly theft from property. Oddly enough, of the cases I can remember, a high percentage of prosecuted crime was of British people!

Since then, Karşiyaka and Lapta have been plagued by what could be best describe as petty crime, abuse and intimidation of residents by members of one Karşiyaka family. Many people from the area will know the elderly lady and the young boy who accompanies her as she walks the local streets from dawn until dusk. During these walks anything not fastened down seems to disappear. They also routinely beg and, if not given what they ask for, a barrage of abuse pours from the old lady. Friends of ours were flabbergasted when their teenage son, who has learnt the “good” Turkish words, translated what she was saying. If you heard your grandmother using those words you would die on the spot.

Another way of begging they use is to knock on a door and if you chase them away the young boy has been known to threaten your pet with a knife. This pair, plus an older boy, has been seen regularly in people’s gardens, climbing fences or any obstacles meant to stop them, but most “foreigners” seem afraid to call the police and so the three never get rounded up. That should not read “seem afraid” but are genuinely afraid! They are fearful that should they complain there may be a link back to their builder who will take reprisals. Or, even worse, when they go for residency renewal it will be refused. My wife and I fit into both categories.

In the last couple of years the number of reported burglaries appears to have risen dramatically even though many thefts have gone unreported because of the apparent low value of petty theft and in some cases because of the fear of the police. Did you know that if you wish to claim off insurance you must get a copy of your statement from the police, not dissimilar to car accidents? The police effectively decide if there was a crime and the value of the goods taken, then if you want this copy for the insurance you have to pay 34TL in stamps!

That brings me to July 3rd 2010 when we had gone to England for my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary. If it was not bad enough having outward flights cancelled and paying an extra 1400TL, one way, to get to party in time on the morning of 3rd July, we were also informed that our return flight was cancelled and that it would cost us another £250 to fly back via Larnaca. On top of this it cost us £70 to take hire a car to Manchester because available flights landed at Stansted. Still recovering from the shock of these extra costs, the icing on the cake was a call on the evening of the 3rd to say that our home had been broken into.

Not a lot was stolen, in fact the biggest cost was to replace the patio door that had been smashed to gain entrance. Obviously there was no evidence as to who had broken in. For lovers of facts, it took 2 months to get the necessary insurance claim documents from the police. Shortly after we were broken into there were several more in the same area, none offering proof to who the culprits were, although we all had our suspicions.

Just having recovered from the farce of CTA’s collapse, and being broken into, the better half decided to do the shopping in the UK she hadn’t done in July because of all the hassle and so on Saturday 11th September I trundle down to Ercan at 06.45, packed her off through immigrations and return home at 09.30 after collecting some supplies. You will be ahead of me now. The thieves must have been about and seen us leave with a suitcase so were not expecting us back. Maybe that is the reason that the only thing taken was our satellite box. I called the police and they arrived in less than 15 minutes. I made statements and the fingerprint man came and made a cursory check.

I thought that would be that, and expected to hear no more, but no, about 21.15 on Tuesday a large police car arrived with three policemen who then stood at our front gate. We are quite isolated so I have to be honest when they said you MUST come to police station now I grew a little concerned. Remember, my wife is out of the country and I’m on my own. I was happy that we keep the gate pad locked and this gave me some time to think. Then one of the officers handed me a telephone so one of their colleagues could talk to me in English. He said that I had to go to Lapta next morning to make statements about things they had found!

I did as I was told and arrived around 07.15 at Lapta Police Station. After sitting around for half hour or so our “lovely” old lady and one of the boys was taken through into the station office. Another hour wait and I was asked if I could identify our property from about 4 holdalls, which I did! After that the old lady was told to leave the station, well I assume that was what was shouted at her, and the boy was hauled off into the depths of the Police Station. Meanwhile I filled out more statements but because they are in Turkish who knows what they actually said.

On Thursday, Kibris Star ran an article which included the picture of the boys in handcuffs. If you wish to view and read the short piece in Turkish at Star Kibris you may recognise them and wish to report further incidents that these two may have been involved in. As far as I understand the boys are remanded pending further investigation.

Interestingly, myself and another crime victim from Lapta spent some time talking to a journalist from Cyprus Today including the taking of photographs. What we hoped for was a piece that would identify this crimewave and make people aware to keep property secure. What is more, they should know that if they see anything suspicious then they should call the Lapta Police on 0392 8218512.

Cyprus Today publication day came and went and what we got was absolute zippo! The story should have made good news with the arrest of two suspects. This would have given a positive message to people in the area that the police are doing what was necessary to prevent petty crime. Exactly the same for the rest of the month, no mention of the crime or the arrests. So much for the community newspaper from which people expect to get “the news” and not just the latest problems with bingo, darts and pool. I would write to Cyprus Today but that would no doubt be ignored too.

I would like to add that it is not just foreigners affected by all this crime it is Turkish Cypriots and Turkish people as well.

I titled this missive  “the Crime Centre of North Cyprus” but you the reader might be saying this is all so petty but then you must read the stories of Pauline Read and Polly Marples elsewhere on North Cyprus Free Press and have discovered some of the real criminals in the area. Our very own kindly crook, who lives in Karşiyaka, is quite happy to see our lives destroyed by his activities in the same way the other crooks destroyed the lives of the Kulaksiz 5 homebuyers.

Unless you have suffered from a break in yourself, it it difficult to understand the effect it has. I have to be brutally honest, we are now frightened of leaving our home. Not just because of petty thieves but also because of what builders and others may do in reprisal. What a change from when we came to Northern Cyprus, full of excitement for our new venture and more importantly – our NEW HOME!

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