The Malta Independent 31 August 2015
Sliema residents were today implored to be on the lookout in their locality and pass on any information about suspicious happenings, after a spate of thefts in the area.
Hundreds of residents attended a meeting organised by the Sliema local council and the police, Inspector Fabian Fleri said the thieves are targeting apartment blocks.
He urged residents to immediately report any unfamiliar faces in the common area.
He said a detailed and intensive investigation is under way, and undercover officers are constantly patrolling the area.
Inspector Fleri said the thefts - which started last year – had abated thanks to police work and only restarted this August.
The thefts are being carried out by a “mobile organised crime group,” who are posing as tourists.
He said certain media reports have hindered police investigations, as if these people feel the net closing in on them they will leave the country.
Inspector Fleri rubbished reports that €45,000 had been stolen in a recent theft, saying the amount was actually €4,000. His comment caused uproar among the residents, leading the Inspector to clarify that all thefts are treated seriously and investigated.
He also clarified that the police has not issued any official advice that Sliema residents should not leave their dwellings unattended in the evening.
“We need your help,” Inspector Fleri said.
He hinted that the police may have a lead on the group, saying that they are “ready to publish photos” if need be.
Asked by one resident about the possibility of setting up a neighbourhood watch, Inspector Fleri said the police can assist in organising such a watch, though he does not want any “vigilantes.”
He said it is vital residents pass on any information they have in an expedient manner, as this will help the police in their investigations.
The same resident said it is sometimes impossible to get through to the Sliema police station. Inspector Fleri said in such situations one can call 112 if it is an emergency.
Inspector Fleri said he cannot speak about “operations matters” regarding the investigation, which caused an exasperated sigh among residents, many of whom saying they attended the meeting in order to hear what the police were doing to get to the bottom of the thefts.
An information leaflet handed out during the meeting offered residents advice on how to avoid falling victims to such thefts.
The police advised that the common area door is always closed, that residents install a sturdy lock, do not keep certain valuables at home and inform a family member to keep watch over a property when going abroad.
The burglars are believed to be using to be using bump keys, which allow them to enter without causing any external damage to the door.
Sliema Police Station 2294 3351
Police 21 224001-7