Crime: With almost all units reporting robbery last week, tenants of the old National Housing and Development Corporation (NHDC) colony in Samdrupjongkhar say the colony has become unsafe to stay in.

The tenants said almost every day someone is robbed of their cell phones, laptops, money and even slippers from the doorstep.

The tenants attributed the increase in burglary to the porous border, poor streetlights and security. They said the colony is located near the Indian border town making it easier for people from the Indian border town to sneak in owing to lack of security.

Most burglaries occurred on the ground floor. In one of the incidents, a tenant lost two cell phones when he was sleeping.
A tenant Jigme Singye said on the night he lost a mobile, a laptop and about Nu 1,800, the burglar had entered the house from the window. “I knew about it only in the morning,” he said, suspecting that the burglar could have used something on him, as he was a light sleeper.  “It seems the burglars sneak in every two to three days.”

Another tenant lost about Nu 27,000, which he claimed was stolen from right under his pillow.

Choki, another tenant had a nerve-wrecking experience when she found a burglar hiding under her bed when she went for toilet at night. But the burglar escaped from the balcony before she could do anything.

Tenants feel that the burglaries are planned and if the concerned agencies fail to intervene, it could lead to armed robbery some day. They said the burglars mostly preferred gadgets. Some tenants have also started guarding their houses by staying up late at night.

Despite many burglaries, only two tenants have lodged complaints with police.

About three days ago, a 30-year-old non-Bhutanese suspect was arrested in connection with the series of burglaries while his partner managed to escape through the border. Police said the suspect was arrested through an ambush.

“After we received the complaint, we waited for the suspects who entered through the border, entered in the buildings and stole slippers,” a police official said.

Police are also working with their Indian counterpart to nab the other suspect. “The suspect we nabbed hasn’t confessed to the crime yet. He said his friend was involved in the burglaries while he would keep an eye on the people.”

Police said the Indian police informed them that the suspects have sold half of the stolen items while the rest were kept at their homes.

Police said most tenants left their balconies or windows open because of the heat while the valuable things were kept in the living rooms when they go to bed.  Police also said that patrolling alone would not solve the issue if tenants were not cautious. Another issue police cited was also the employment of non-Bhutanese as domestic helpers who could pass on the information on what the owners possessed.

By Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar