The darker side of expat life in the Seychelles

Two weeks ago we were burgled.

I’d love to say that it was the first time since we’ve lived here.  Sadly, it isn’t.
It’s taken me all this time to write about it.  This blog is usually reserved for all the nice things in our lives.  A record of our sons growing up and all the beautiful things about living in the Seychelles.  But, I need to write this down, as much as I’d rather forget it, I think that it’s starting to become a worrying part of life here so it would be wrong of me not to record this. The darker side of expat life in the Seychelles

The darker side of expat life in the seychelles

When we moved to Praslin, our little island in the Seychelles, we were naive.

We felt so safe, in a little beautiful, tropical bubble.
The darker side of expat life in the Seychelles
Our house was a little one level two bed place.  We left our doors unlocked, and curtains open a lot of the time.  We forgot that there are bad people all over the world.

Things started small.  Our neighbours and us had some flip flops stolen from the front of our houses, our hammock was stolen from the front of the house while we were away on Mahe, things like that.

It stepped up a notch when there was a pevert at my window while I was at home alone with Arthur one night when he was small.  I was stupid for leaving curtains open I know, but in my defence my bedroom was at the back of the house and there was a big garden behind for a house I knew was empty.  Therefore someone had to come looking to see in which I wouldn’t dream about happening here.
The worst thing about it for me was that he tried to get my attention.  What was he expecting to happen, I’d let him in?!  Anyway I screamed at him and he ran off.  The next morning we discovered that he had moved a gas bottle had been moved so that he could look through the bathroom window which was quite high so he’d watched me in the shower as well.
I honestly felt truly violated and it took me a long time to sleep properly again.  I also don’t think it wasn’t coincidence that it was at this time I got a taste for rum!!

We decided to move house after our neighbours also had incidents along similar lines and our landlord was not prepared to do anything to improve security.  We were pretty certain it was just one disgusting guy targeting us all so moving away from the area would help!

So, we moved into our lovely new house, it was fenced in and we felt so safe all over again.

A couple months later my bike was stolen from the garden.  We were annoyed and upset, but had left it unlocked so had to accept that it was sort of out on display asking to be taken!   However, this was the most valuable thing we’d had stolen, before that, as I mentioned it was minor things.

Then nothing happened to us for another few months.  Our new landlords also own the house next to ours and they had been renovating it, they went away one weekend and came back and the TV had been stolen, they had broken in through the patio doors.  We have two sets of patio doors in our house, our landlords put extra bolts on one set but the others worked differently so they left those while they decided the best way to deal with those ones.
We had no problems until we went away to Mahe to have Freddie.  We were gone for two weeks.  Fortunately for us, as long as we’ve lived in the Seychelles we have locked our real valuables away in a safe place away from our house whenever we’ve gone away.  We were recommended to do this because we have been told petty theft is a problem here although originally we’d never seen it as an issue ourselves.  I’m so pleased we took that advice now!
Anyway, someone broke in through our patio doors.  They raided our alcohol cupboard and took about £200 worth of spirits and wine.  (We aren’t big drinkers by the way but we do like nice bottles of spirits!!)
They were even brazen enough to drink a whole bottle of Whisky while they were here and put the empty bottle back into the box!!  Randomly they also took 4 pairs of Marks shorts, but like old ones he would only wear round the house!!
Again, we were really upset with this.  We did know however that the patio doors were a weak spot on the house.  Annoyingly our landlord had put deadbolts on one set of our patio doors before we’d gone to Mahe but not another.
The whole thing was a surreal experience, it was the day we were bringing Freddie home from hospital and all of a sudden we were dealing with police and security.  Such a shame to have to deal with that on what should have been such a special day.  The good thing was that the police did get fingerprints from the bottle of whisky that was put back in the box and so hopefully something will come out of that – although that hasn’t happened yet!

Even at this point we didn’t feel too concerned for our security, we figured that these people had been watching the house, the same as what had happened next door, and knew that it was empty.  We also knew it could have been a lot more costly for us had we not locked things other items away!!

Then last week while we were all asleep someone came into our house.
Freddie woke up around 1 so I got up to feed him.  I reached for my iPad like I do every night to check the time and it wasn’t there.  I was sure I’d put it on charge on my bedside table but figured I must have left it downstairs.
After being annoyed that I couldn’t use my iPad while I was feeding I woke up more and realised that I was really sure I’d had it when I went to bed.  I then went downstairs to have a look around, I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I went back up to bed and tried to see if I’d accidently left it in the bed before I went to sleep, this woke Mark up.  He confirmed that I had definitely had it upstairs, we looked around the room and realised that a few other things were also missing.  We had definitely been burgled.
They had came upstairs into our bedroom, they took my iPad and a portable speaker and emptied our wallets (luckily there wasn’t much in them) they also took our external hard drive which had all our movies on.
We discovered that they had come in through the back door which was unlocked.  We never use this door, ever.  It could have been unlocked for ages, we know it was locked when we came back from Mahe as we checked all the doors then.  We don’t know who unlocked it, it really could have been anyone.
The thing is, is that someone came into our garden with the intention of breaking in.  As I mentioned, our garden is fenced so you don’t just stumble upon the back door.  This person would have had to come up to the door to test it, you don’t do that in the middle of the night unless your intention is to break in, it just so happened that their job was made a little easier by our negligence.

That night, after the realisation sunk in that someone had been in the house while we were there, my heart broke and I burst into tears.
I couldn’t stop thinking about what would have happened if one of us had woken up, would they have ran away, would it have got violent, did they have a weapon with them in case that happened?  I feel physically sick at the idea of it.

It’s been two weeks now and I can’t get over it.
Every time I wake up to feed Freddie I can’t get back off to sleep, I hear noises that sound like someone is in the house, I swear I see movement out of the corner of my eye.
I know that eventually, this will get better, but I wonder if it should get better.  Should I always be this alert now, just in case?

We now have a puppy, Koopa, who sleeps outside.
The darker side of expat life in the seychelles
He is here not only as our family pet, but also as our alarm, to bark if someone comes onto the property.  Right now he’s not really a force to be reckoned with but any noise is a deterrent to thieves.

Last week, we found out that our friends living near by were burgled.  They broke in through a window while they were out.
Another of our friends has just moved house to the other side of the island after being broken into on numerous occasions and having hundred of pounds worth of stuff taken.

It is becoming increasingly clear that expats are being targeted.   There is a growing drug problem here.  Unfortunately that results in an increase in petty crime to fund drug habits.
Aside from the drug problem though, we have been told on numerous occasions that there are many who feel no stigma in regards to theft here.  That it’s ok to steal from those who have more than you.

We are stepping up security in our home to help protect us from people getting in. We know that, in reality if someone really wants to break in, they will always find a way but we want do make it as difficult for them as possible.
We are also seriously considering moving house as for some reason, there seems to be dramatically fewer problems with crime on the other side of the island.  However, we don’t just want to rush and move anywhere, it’s obviously a big deal to move house with two small children and a puppy, and we have to ensure we move into a place that can meet our needs.
I don’t want to feel like I’m running away, like these people judge won but our family’s safety must come first!

I want to add that by no means had this made me feel that we should leave the Seychelles. Theft and other similar crimes are unfortunately a side effect of living somewhere where there is a large economical divide. This is something that we have now experienced first hand and through our friends. It’s a sad thing, however we do still love living here and there are so many wonderful things about living here.
We are using it all as a lesson to never be sloppy with security, wherever we are in the world, and to remember that as much as we don’t like it, there are ‘bad’ people wherever you go, including a tropical paradise!

 

***update 10/05/2017 I have written a post reflecting on this and about crime in the Seychelles, take a read**

 

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40 thoughts on “The darker side of expat life in the Seychelles

  1. Very brave Chantelle for you to have written it all down and heartbreaking to realise the impact burglary can have on your state of mind. Hope the process of writing it down will help and you can start to put your energies where they should be and to feel at peace again really soon xxxx

  2. How awful for you, especially with such little babas in the house.

    Thank you for the email response, sorry I didn’t get chance to reply.

  3. So sorry to hear this happened to you! I hope that stepping up your security can give you some peace of mind – I’ve never been burgled personally but know people who have so I have an idea of just how difficult it can be to feel relaxed afterwards. As you say, there’s crime everywhere in the world and sadly it’s something we all have to deal with and protect ourselves from as well as we can.

  4. My heart goes out to you it really does, I think life as an expat can make you feel so vulnerable anyway and for all these incidents to have happen to you must be so traumatic.

    We have not experienced anything you have been through but we also got a puppy who is now 10 months old, my husband convinced me by saying its extra security for the house and family and it definitely makes me feel more secure when hubby’s out of town.

    Congratulations on gorgeous Freddie 🙂

  5. oh Chantelle how terrifying, your reaction is totally understandable. Great idea to get a dog, on a recent security course we were told that is one of the best things you can do for security. As you probably know, we live behind gates and locks, have an alarm and an electric fence plus a keep at the top of the stairs. It sometimes feels a little OTT as we also live on a gated compound with a guard. But if having the extra security means we’re going to be the last house they target then I’m happy as unfortunately crime can be very violent here and not just petty robbery. I would recommend looking into doing a security course of some kind, it will make you feel more empowered and hopefully give you some good practical tips. You shouldn’t feel like this in your own home, especially when you have such little babies x

  6. Jeez, that sounds awful. You must be very strong. I think I would have left after all that. Especially someone breaking in when we were sleeping. Horrid. White people are targeted here too as they usually have more money than the locals. We live in a gated community but I’ve still heard of break ins. We haven’t been targeted yet, thankfully.
    I wouldn’t worry about letting them ‘win’, I’d just make sure you and your family feel safe and comfortable xxx

    #twinklytuesday
    Mama, My Kid Doesn’t Poop Rainbows recently posted…The Baby’s Second WordMy Profile

  7. I’m so sorry. I have to admit that I spent much of the 10 years I lived in Bangladesh feeling afraid. We had guards protecting our home, and still got burgled. The most memorable time, my father had just returned from the UK, and brought me birthday presents I was waiting to open. Not only did they steal them, the burglars took them from my room and had the gall to leave cigarette stubs on the floor of the bedroom where I was sleeping.

    I hope the pup is giving you some peace of mind. Thanks for being part of #TwinklyTuesday.
    Sadia recently posted…Twinfant Tuesday: How Drive Thrus Can Save Your SanityMy Profile

  8. Oh bless you this is truely awful. To have someone come into your house and violate your privacy must be so hard to get over. Despite this you write with such a level head. I hope whatever decision you make it helps and you feel better and safer. Lots love xx #twinklytuesday
    Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap) recently posted…Darling, I was WrongMy Profile

  9. I’m so sorry you and your family had to go through this. Unfortunately based on my experience in Brazil, once you become aware of the danger you will never feel completely at ease. From the moment I arrived in Rio my husband (a native of Rio) was hellbent on teaching me to be aware at all times even walking down a crowded street in the middle of the day. Nine years later, I’ve trained myself to always glance over my shoulder, walk quickly (tricky to do when pushing a stroller), never carry more than one credit card on me, and only certified copies of IDs. Many moms I know have been specifically targeted outside their kids’ daycares because thieves know getting kids in and out of cars slows you down and takes your attention away. As you said about Seychelles, there are many wonderful things about Brazil but personal security is NOT one of them. An honest description of the country includes both positives and negatives.
    I hope that adorable puppy gives you some peace of mind and lots of kisses! #twinklytuesday
    Brynn recently posted…The Infinity Dream Award aka My Attempt to Be Part of a CommunityMy Profile

  10. This is so scary to read about but really resonates with me. A month after moving to Kyrgyzstan we were threatened by a guy on the street with a knife. It was such a weird situation – it was 7 AM when we were walking the dog, light out and on a busy street. It’s hard for me to talk about with others because I feel like they will associate that one experience with the entire location (something I’m trying not to do as I’ll be here two years!), but it’s also something I’ve struggled with feeling safe again and at home in a place that isn’t technically “home”. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Brittany recently posted…A Walk Around BishkekMy Profile

  11. Sorry to hear about these horrible experiences, it is so scary to think someone actually went into your room while you were asleep. However, well done for writing about it, it’s hard to write about negative things when you really want to forget them. I’ve been lucky so far, the worst crime I’ve suffered in Mexico was having my wallet stolen from my bag on the bus. The feeling of impotence is horrible, though. I hope you manage to find a solution to be safe and feel safe.
    Ruth recently posted…Bilingual Baby at 18 monthsMy Profile

  12. Oh Chantelle! I have been trying to get to this post to read it all week. Thanks for sharing, I hope it was cathartic getting it all down on paper. As someone else said, being an expat can make you feel vulnerable enough without these kinds of things to torment you. You are super brave and hopefully this is the end of it and the increased security measures and your new pup will give you peace of mind. Meantime, rum! Lots of it! 😉 xx
    Nicole recently posted…Do You Need a Career Break? Is it Time for an Adventure in Your Life?My Profile

  13. Oh Chantelle this is too awful, I’m so sorry to hear about it. Knowing someone came into your room while you were asleep must be horrific. Getting the dog is such a good move, when you announced you’d got him I thought you were a little crazy taking on that with a new born but I was wrong and it’s definitely a good move.
    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo recently posted…Silent Sunday – 4 October 2015My Profile

  14. You poor things, what an awful experience to have to go through. I hope you find a way for keeping yourselves safe but also to live with it in some way. My husband is originally Brazilian and from our many stays there I know what it feels like to have to constantly worry about security – not fun at all. Big hugs xxx
    Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork recently posted…Toddler Bathing Battle Strategies & Review of Paddy’s Bathroom Toiletries from BabipurMy Profile

  15. I am so sorry to hear this happened to you….like you i would have been annoyed at the thought that someone was in my house while I was gone, but someone coming in while I was home asleep with my babies would cause me to not be able to sleep! You sound like you are dealing with it as well as could be expected. You are right there are bad people everywhere.
    Laura Wolf recently posted…MovingMy Profile

  16. Oh my goodness, this is awful on so many levels and none of which make it right for the burglars. The crime rate was one of the reasons we wanted to leave SE England and ended up in Normandy (not the only one I hasten to add) but even here there is crime and it does seem that sometimes expats are targeted. I really hope Koopa grows up to be a a great loving pet and also a formidable guard dog (he is gorgeous!)
    Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault recently posted…Animal Tales 43My Profile

  17. What an awful thing to have happened to your family. But how brave of you to write about it. You are right, often people think that expat life is like some sort of dream life, where nothing bad happens, but unfortunately crime can happen in any place in the world. However much I moan about living in a second floor apartment, it definitely does make me feel safer, since even in a relatively ‘safe’ area of San Francisco, we get petty crime here too. It sounds like you are dealing with it all very well and your ‘guard dog’ is so CUTE! Though hope for your sake of course that he grows into a ferocious guard dog! (Well ferocious to intruders, you know what I mean!) Thanks for sharing this experience. x
    Rosie @ Little Fish recently posted…41/52 Daddy and Little M SelfieMy Profile

  18. So sorry to hear this has happened. I’m glad with some perspective you see that there is slimy filth everywhere in the world – but I guess some countries deal with justice far more thoroughly; the fact you feel targeted and vulnerable is just not on. I utterly understand why you can’t sleep at night and hope they puppy is helping you with a sense of security. May things improve for you and the people responsible be caught and punished to prevent others doing the same. A really dark side to the Seychelles but thanks for your honesty, its important that our blogs don’t always paint life as rosy all the time
    Keri recently posted…Kidgoz – Family Travel Entertainment in the BagMy Profile

  19. Oh Chantelle how awful. This is a very brave post as I’m sure even writing about it, brought it all back. Having said that you’ve written it all down so I hope that this starts to give you some peace of mind and you can move forward. I remember be followed for over an hour in Prague and have never been so scared. The reality of expat life that isn’t always talked about. Stay safe x

  20. I know how you feel. For the 2 years we lived on Mahe we were robbed only once and it was by 2 9 year old boys who were hired by my neighbor to clear her lawn. They were so stupid they took Monopoly money, thinking it’s real. Police did not want to do anything but thanks to pressure from our landlord at least returned most of our possessions. The little assholes had the nerve to show up in the police station wearing OUR clothes!!! The police stated it’s “not their fault” and no punishment was carried out ( except two slaps in their faces administered by me outside of the police station) and thankfully we got even some of our Monopoly money back.
    I’m out of Seychelles now, but my parents still live there and 3, 70kg rotweillers later all their thieving problems are solved. Ocassionaly someone would sneak in the yard trying to get something small and then we can hear them screaming while trying to get out as fast as they can.

  21. Hi,
    First of all I’d like to thank you for the incite you have shared.
    I’m been here for two weeks and I’m also worried about theft. I’m a classical pianist from the uk. Mum is from seychelles and soon i’ll be working for the hotels. I’ll have to chose a place to live and I’m worried. Would you be so kind to advise me on the safest places to live please?
    I’d be ever so thankful.

    • Hi Garnet, welcome to Seychelles!!! let me first say that this post was not written to scare anyone into not living here, because I absolutely adore living here and couldn’t be happier. I really don’t think that crime here is worse than anywhere else in the world (quite the opposite actually) but i did want to write because I think it is easy to think that this is a perfect paradise where crime does not exist, and of course, it does! I don’t particularly think there are ‘good and bad’ places to live. I do think though that you just need to be aware of security. Many people keep dogs here to help. If your house is well secured you should be fine. My biggest tips would be if you choose a house with sliding doors to add additional locks if they are not already there, as they can be easy to remove. No one is going to smash a window or a door to get into your house here so you needn’t worry about that. Are you going to be on Mahe or Praslin? If you want any more advice, please feel free to drop me an email (click the contact button on my home page) Chantelle

  22. Hi Chantelle,
    I am so sorry you had to go through that. I do agree the crime rate is increasing, especially these past two years. We face it a lot here on Mahe. My family owns a business on Mahe. We’ve had our dogs poisoned.
    Hope things gets better for you. It would be good to check that future houses have burglar bars.

    • That’s so sad Geetha. I wonder why anyone would be so cruel to such an innocent and loveable animal!! It makes me sick that humans an be so evil…
      I visited Mahe last year but didn’t have any single insecurity incidence, thank God!

      Thank you for sharing your experience Chantelle.

  23. I’m a Seychellois who live abroad and I’ve just come across this story. I’m sick to my stomach; really sorry for your pain. Would you mind if I replicate this story on a Facebook page to raise awareness? The info. will be read by many Seychellois both abroad and in the Seychelles.
    Thank you

    • Hi Dina. Thank you for getting in touch and for your kind words. I must say I have had some really negative comments on this post (none of which I’ve allowed to go live on my blog) and so I’m a little wary of potential back lash from spreading it further. I don’t wish to draw negative attention if that makes sense? I also know that the overwhelming majority of people here are excellent people, I hope that comes across in my post!!! Chantelle

  24. Hi Chantelle,

    I am glad I found this blog. I lived in the seychelles for a few years and back then there were not many problems related to drugs and I too loved the place and the people.
    I went back for holidays recently and the drug problem had reached epidemic proportions. I honestly can’t believe someone had something negative to say about your article unless the truth offend them. It has been more than a year since your post and I wanted to know if things have improved over there regarding the forced entry robberies.

    Back on May 4th 2016 a 65 year old german tourist named Gunter Lamprecht disappeared on Praslin and I have not been able to find more updates about the investigation.
    And now again another 58 year old german tourist named Norbert Franz Fleischmann disappeared
    yet again on Praslin and there have been no more updates so far.

    If this one also remains not found, then the problem might be beyond forced entry robberies and drug infestation; there might be a lurking psychopath in the mix as well. I hopefully wish I am wrong on my assessment.

    Thank you

  25. Thank you for posting this. I am currently living in San Francisco after 12 years in Douth Africa and considering spending time in the Seychelles with my two girls. I’m wondering if you found a safe place where you feel more comfortable?

    • Hi Brooke, I have since moved house and do feel safe here. I think a lot of it is mindset and knowing you’re doing everything you can to keep yourself and family safe, after all that is all you can do. Seychelles really isn’t a dangerous place and violent crime is really low here. I know the people that are living in my last house and I know they feel comfortable there, they’ve added some additional locks for peace of mind. I think for me that house was tainted, in the same way that if anything bad happens anywhere! We are still 100% happy living in Seychelles and love raising our kids here!

  26. Born and bred! Who would tell me otherwise. My country did not have this lifestyle 25 years ago. It may have started to be after too many idiotic people arrived from Africa and mainly West Africa. I am not being racist here, I am just angry that the wrong people are entering our country. It is too small to take that lots, these people should go home. Lots of happenings are happening in Seychelles. It is a country that everybody knows everybody. Life have become a hassle under the super power of idiots for more than 4 decades. It is about time for Wavel Ramkalawan to take over to Democracy. This “thieving lifestyle” will go on until the day Democracy takes over the State House, trust me! It has become a country forgotten by the rest. Sad. Kids under ages are not living the lifestyle I lived when I was their age. Mothers have gone out of control to control their own kids. Life is so much embarassing there, we know it if they thought those living abroad knows nothing about it. Sad a Country, Sad a nation. Makes me sick and I feel like vomitting! Long Live Motherland!

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