Cablegate: Tunis Annual Crime Evaluation Questionnaire (Aceq)
DE RUEHTU #0142/01 0450904
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140904Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4427
INFO RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS TUNIS 000142
DEPT FOR DS/IP/ITA, DS/IP/NEA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PTER TN
SUBJECT: TUNIS ANNUAL CRIME EVALUATION QUESTIONNAIRE (ACEQ)
REF: SECSTATE 7551
1. (U) Embassy Tunis responses to ACEQ keyed to paragraphs
2. (paragraph 6) (U) (E) CRIMINAL ELEMENTS ROAM FREELY DAY
OR NIGHT AND TARGET EMBOFF AND AFFLUENT RESIDENTIAL AREAS FOR
Although the Tunisian police are omnipresent, criminals take
advantage of vacant residences in Emboff and affluent
neighborhoods during regular business hours when the
residents are at work. Criminals are known to ring doorbells
of residences and wait. If there is no response, they enter
the yard and search for an unsecured window or door in order
to gain entry to the home. If someone answers the bell, they
make a ruse as if they are with the municipality and move on.
Criminals also move on if the residence cannot be easily
The headquarters for the African Development Bank (ADB) is in
Tunis and its 1000 or so employees' homes are scattered
throughout metropolitan Tunis. The ADB security officer
reported to the RSO that residences which are burglarized are
In 2007, one Embassy home was burglarized. While the owners
were out, thieves took advantage of an improperly secured
door grill and forcibly entered the residence. They stole
some jewelry. The visit of the local guards may have
disturbed the thieves since the home's electronics were still
Although the American Cooperative School of Tunis (ACST) is
not under Chief of Mission authority, it is located across
the highway from the Embassy compound and a majority of
Mission children attend ACST. In March 2007 a teaching
assistant had her purse snatched by two men on a speeding a
motorbike as she exited the school's front gate.
Car theft is uncommon and carjacking is unheard of. Smash
and grab thefts are more common should the vehicle owner
leave a valuable item, such as a laptop computer, in plain
3. (paragraph 7) (U) (A) SURROUNDED BY LOW-CRIME BUFFER
ZONES, WHICH DETER CRIMINAL ELEMENTS FROM ENTERING EMBOFF
It is generally safe to walk day or night in Emboff
neighborhoods. The majority of Embassy-leased residences are
located in north suburban Tunis. High crime areas are
located closer to Tunis proper.
4. (paragraph 8) (U) (A) ARE DETERRED BY RISK OF
CONFRONTATION AND ENGAGE PRINCIPALLY IN CRIMES BY STEALTH;
BURGLARIES OF OCCUPIED RESIDENCES ARE USUALLY AVOIDED.
The most common criminals are pickpockets, purse-snatchers
and snatch-and-run cell-phone thieves who primarily work in
the high-traffic tourist areas such as the Tunis medina and
the central market, as well as other large Tunisian cities.
Burglaries do not exclusively focus on the expatriate
community, the growing Tunisian middle class offers criminals
more opportunity for theft. Since most burglaries are crimes
of opportunity, a well-secured home is often reason enough
for the thieves to move on. With this in mind, middle class
Tunisian families have taken measures to improve their
residential security by installing grillwork over their
windows and doors, something the Embassy also does.
Residential break-ins occur often during the day when homes
are unoccupied, although occupied break-ins are not unheard
of. It can be assumed that burglars are prepared for
confrontation, but are generally not predisposed to it.
5 (paragraph 9) (U) (A) UNARMED OR ARMED WITH NON-LETHAL
Although criminals are prepared to be confrontational, most
generally avoid gratuitous violence. For the most part,
crimes of stealth are usually committed by a thief who is
unarmed or armed with non-lethal weapons. However, it has
also been noted that criminals will rifle through a woman's
purse on a crowded bus or train, undeterred by onlookers.
For this reason, the RSO discourages Embassy personnel from
using the public buses or overcrowded trains. It is also
becoming more common for victims to notice their bag or
jacket was sliced open and valuable contents stealthily
removed after walking through or standing in a crowded area.
Violent crime remains relatively rare in affluent areas where
most expatriates reside. It is illegal to possess a firearm
without government approval and the government will authorize
approval to carry a firearm only in the most grievous and
extreme circumstances. Even then, a heavy burden is placed
upon the citizen to justify the request.
6. (paragraph 10) (U) (B) OPERATE IN GROUPS OF TWO TO FOUR
INDIVIDUALS, ARE PREPARED TO BE CONFRONTATIONAL, BUT
GENERALLY AVOID GRATUITOUS VIOLENCE.
7. (paragraph 11) (U) (B) LOCAL POLICE OR NEIGHBORHOOD
ASSOCIATIONS ARE PARTIALLY EFFECTIVE AT DETERRING CRIME, AND
RESPONSES TO ALARMS OR EMERGENCY CALLS ARE SUFFICIENTLY
PROMPT AND EFFECTIVE TO DISRUPT/NEUTRALIZE BURGLARIES.
Beside the police, the Embassy local guard force is an
effective tool for preventing burglaries. Their regular, yet
random, visits to Embassy residences include checking the
yard for unauthorized people and ensuring that vehicles are
properly secured. The guards are also made aware when
residents are out of town to check that the home is secured.
Embassy guards also have a quicker response time than the
police and can be dispatched by the RSO, Post One or FSNI at
The most effective deterrent is the resident. Emboffs are
encouraged to use home alarms and instructed to use all
security devices including locks and grills. Guards are
dispatched to activated alarms when notified.
8. (paragraph 12) (U) (A) POLICE ARE PROFESSIONAL, WELL
TRAINED, UNFAILINGLY COOPERATIVE, AND RESPONSIVE TO REQUESTS
The Tunisian police are relatively well trained and
professional. Many senior officials have received advanced
training in Western Europe or the United States. Embassy
requests for assistance and investigation of Embassy
residence and vehicle burglaries are prompt and thorough.
Tunisian police have relatively good success capturing these