Despite a strict curfew and the imposition of martial law, a few daring – or simply foolhardy – thieves in Kyiv are taking advantage of the capital’s darkened streets as it continues to suffer the effects of Russia’s ongoing attacks against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure..
In the Teremky district, located on the southern outskirts of the city, the owners of several kiosks arrived to open up in the days after a massive attack on Nov. 23 knocked out power for much of Kyiv, only to find looters had struck.
"I came to open the store in the morning and saw a broken lock. The store's shelves were empty. The thief took absolutely everything," 22-year-old saleswoman Olga*, who works in a small kiosk selling electronic cigarettes, told Kyiv Post.
"The police came, asked some questions, and examined video recordings from nearby cameras. They found out that it was one man - probably someone from the local area, because this was not the first time this happened, and the police say they know who exactly committed the theft.”
Before this incident, she said, the store did not have any alarm or video surveillance but now the theft forced the owners to install a surveillance camera and a security system.
Twenty-four-year-old Andrii*, a barista in one of the coffee kiosks also blamed a theft on a known thief in the local area but said rather than call police he would deal with him himself.
"My coffee shop has been robbed eight times already," he said. "I have a surveillance camera installed - I took a photo of the thief from it. It is unclear, but you can make out his face.
"It's definitely one of the locals who live nearby in one of those high-rise buildings. I don't want to contact the police - it doesn't make sense to do it just because of the candies.
“But I hope we'll set up an ambush with my friends, and one day we'll catch the criminal."
Kyiv has been under martial law and a curfew since the invasion began back in February. The curfew has been relaxed a number of times as the direct threat from Russian troops faded and is now in place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Yet, some thieves are undeterred. Forty-nine-year-old Iryna*, who works in a small grocery store, says the robber was in her store around 11 p.m. when the curfew began.
"The criminal stole money, cigarettes and some food,” she said. “We called the police, and they searched the store and took fingerprints near the cash register."
The Teremky district is one of the most remote districts of the capital and is home to 20,000 people. Back in 2016, just three years after its opening, the Teremky metro station was one of the five most criminal metro stations in Kyiv.
According to the head of the National Police, Ihor Klymenko, the number of crimes registered from Nov. 23 to 30, when the country experienced the longest emergency power outages, decreased by 16 percent compared to the week before. In particular, fraud reports decreased by 24 percent, and reported theft and robbery decreased by 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively. And almost 7,000 police units patrol the streets across the country daily.
*Names have been changed
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