The darker side of expat life in the Seychelles
*If you are thinking of moving to the Seychelles, you can find all of my posts about life in Seychelles here*
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
When we moved to Praslin, our little island in the Seychelles, we were naive.
We felt so safe, in a little beautiful, tropical bubble.
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.
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**