SMARTER broken into again

National 2 minutes, 24 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

SMARTER Brunei’s premises in Sengkurong were believed to be broken into and burgled for the second time in six weeks.

A microwave, compact disc player and water dispenser were among the items allegedly stolen late on Monday to the early hours of yesterday.

When The Brunei Times visited its premises, the centre’s backyard fence was cut open and the rear door of its main building forced open, breaking the locks and damaging its structure, leaving shards of glass on the floor.

President and CEO of SMARTER Malai Hj Abdullah Hj Malai Othman said SMARTER called the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) at 7.30am yesterday, but they only arrived at 12.30pm, despite the Sengkurong police branch located less than five kilometres away.

“The last burglary happened on August 9. The police told us to bring in many of our appliances that were placed in our kitchen and previously stationed outside – but is has made no difference as they have now broken into the building,” said Malai Hj Abdullah.

Pointing to the slow police response, the president claimed that SMARTER “were not a priority to the police”, adding that they had “gotten no updates whatsoever from the previous burglary last month”.

“I’ve had to suspend most of the classes, and move all those who are still attending into one room. Two thirds of parents have decided not to send their children for now, as the investigation is ongoing.”

Grateful for the continuous public support, Malai Hj Abdullah asked for their help to replace the stolen items, which were used as teaching tools for the students.

He added that prevention through CCTV and security guards were not sustainable additions as they would increase his already limited overhead costs.

“If we hired a security guard or installed CCTV, I would have to take this from the salary of therapists and helpers here. The quality of teaching is our number one concern, and where we direct our money to.”

He also hoped the adjacent Sengkurong Clinic of the Ministry of Health, which own the land SMARTER is using, lend their resources to keep their place safe.

“We are moving out of this branch soon, as the clinic is looking to expand. So we don’t want to spend extra money renovating the place as we have to find a new place soon.”

Malai Hj Abdullah also suspected that the same culprit(s) from last month carried out the break-in. “Sengkurong has become increasingly prone to thefts. Two houses by the mosque and the recent robbery at the kedai runcit (convenience store).

“We have been operating here since 2003, and we have never had a problem – but in just two months we’ve had two thefts. We and the police need to ask ourselves why this is happening,” he added.

When contacted, police said a statement on the case would be released today.

The Brunei Times