Bar mitzva bandits

Rise reported in crimes committed against people during their simcahs.

By SHELLY PAZ
October 9, 2007 00:39
3 minute read.
Bar mitzva bandits

stealing safe 63. (photo credit: )

 
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Orit Shapira though it was all a joke when she chased the man who had taken her son's bar mitzva gifts at gunpoint last month. But it was all too real. The mother of two had thought the masked man pointing his weapon at her husband was pulling a prank. Still tipsy from alcohol and the joy of celebrating her son Kim's bar mitzva, she left the family car and gave chase. "I don't know what I was thinking, chasing an armed man like that. But then my younger son called, 'Mom, stop!' and I returned to my senses and stopped." There has been a rise lately in crimes committed against people during what should be the happiest of times, including safes being stolen from bar mitzvas and weddings. The Shapiras had gone to great pains to hold Kim's bar mitzva ahead of schedule so his dying grandfather could attend. The grandfather made it to the big day, but passed away afterwards; the family is now sitting shiva. "The police didn't find anything and only after I turned to the media and told my story were they kind enough to pay us a visit and hear our suspicions, but they didn't come up with any result," said Shapira. Next time, she will hire private security, she said. Victims of such crimes often suspect the robbers did their homework, and in some cases that they were tipped regarding when people would be away from home. "People who celebrate a meaningful family event such as a wedding, a bar mitzva or a brit hand out invitations, where they announce the exact time their house will be empty. People who unfortunately have to bury a relative post and publish obituaries with their exact address and the exact time they will be out of it for the funeral," said Shmuel from Jerusalem. His home was completely emptied four years ago while he was away celebrating his daughter's wedding. "I feel the police don't care. They write down your complaint and if you direct them to someone you suspect of committing or assisting in the break-in they will summon them for questioning, but in most instances, if not all, the case will be closed due to a lack of 'public interest,'" Shmuel said. Shmuel clearly learned his lesson and when it came time for his son to get married, Shmuel paid a friend of the family to watch his home. "You can't hire someone you don't know or trust to watch your house, but I paid generously for someone I know. In addition, I recommend people not keep too much cash at home, because the insurance doesn't pay for this loss. The damage the first break-in caused us was enormous, both financial and mental, and it took us a long time to recover from that blow," he said. He described the measures he had taken since that break-in, first moving to a new apartment, and then subscribing to a security service center and installing an alarm system, steel security doors and bars. "It's absurd that instead of the thieves being put behind bars, we, the ordinary citizens have to live behind them," Shmuel sighed. Another disturbing facet to this trend are recent incidents in which funeral attendees returned to their cars to find handbags, laptops and other belongings stolen. "Two colleagues of mine both happened to mention going to funerals - one went to Netanya and the other to Kfar Saba. Both of them had their handbags stolen," wrote Joan Weinberg on the Tanglo Web site, which serves the Tel Aviv Anglo community. "Naturally, the cemeteries aren't putting up signs, because they don't want to alarm people and don't want or can't afford security. So just be warned: Don't leave your purse in your car. Sadly, you'll have to carry it graveside..." Police said these robberies were not classified as a "disturbing national trend" and since they did not have separate statistics for these crimes they had to treat them as they did any other. But those who returned from a celebration to find an emptied house or a robber waiting for them disagree with that cavalier approach. "The thief who was waiting for us outside our home knew exactly what a bonanza he was about to win. We planned a big, expensive event and we came back with more than NIS 100,000 in checks and cash. I think he must have been tipped off in advance," said Shapira. "When attending a celebration, don't give cash, only checks, simply because cash money cannot be canceled in case of loss or robbery."

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