Insecurity spreads as crime ravages Yangon

A burglarized home in Kyeemyindaing Township and a machete-wielding robber subdued by passers-by in Insein Township flank a photo of Yangon.  Original images: Khant Si Thu / Facebook, Zuyet Awarmatik, YBS Group / Facebook
A burglarized home in Kyeemyindaing Township and a machete-wielding robber subdued by passers-by in Insein Township flank a photo of Yangon. Original images: Khant Si Thu / Facebook, Zuyet Awarmatik, YBS Group / Facebook

A rise in burglaries, abductions, robberies, and more have Yangon residents on edge amid an apparent increase in crime.

In one such case, a 23-year-old Kyeemyindaing Township resident told Coconuts that thieves plundered his home this morning on Pan Pin Gyi Road, where they stole jewelry and belongings.

“A group of burglars broke into my house when my grandmother and our maid were downstairs,” Khant Si Thu said. “It happened when my mother, who stays with them, went to the market.” 

Khant Si Thu said he was home at the time when thieves “smashed glass windows and took all the gold and cash.”

“I was in my room upstairs and didn’t happen to notice it at all,” he added. “I am just thankful now that they didn’t do anything to my grandmother; she’s over 80 years old now.”

In addition to petty thefts of purses, power lines, generators, car batteries, and phones, more kidnappings are being reported in big cities such as Yangon and Mandalay, creating a growing sense of lawlessness in post-coup Myanmar.

Some residents worry about being next.

“Every time I go out now, I make sure I lock the front door of my apartment properly,” Zin Thaw, a 27-year-old Yangon resident, told Coconuts. “Even though such crime has not reported in my area, I hear about these stories almost every day now.”

“Who knows. I could be next, or my neighbors. They run this city now,” he added.

Although no credible crime statistics are available, anecdotal evidence suggests a pattern of increased criminality that has been blamed on security forces shifting attention to combatting dissent rather than disorder.

In its most recent Safe Cities Index, The Economist ranked Yangon No. 58 of 60 cities in terms of personal safety, after Caracas, Venezuela; Manila; and Bangkok.

Over in Insein Township, a pedestrian was abducted at around 5am yesterday as he waited at a bus stop, according to a report in Hlaing Info Media. 

The man had been visiting a nearby relative’s home when a light gray car pulled up and five people dragged him into the car. He shouted for help but no one was able to hear his cry. He was later freed with several broken limbs.

The man’s attackers reportedly identified themselves as military officers.

“These people called themselves captains,” said a close friend of the victim, who spoke anonymously out of fear for their safety. “The victim was handcuffed and beaten. He begged for his life, handed over money, and later they dropped him off at Taing Kone Market.”

This past Friday, a woman was mugged in Insein Township as she waited for a ferry. Her assailant wielded a machete. The man stole her phone and necklace and threatened those who approached to help with his weapon before he was restrained.

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