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The vast majority of expats are law-abiding citizens, working hard to fit into their adopted country.
If faced by a police officer demanding to see their papers most will, for obvious reasons, happily comply.
The last thing that a hard-working expat in an unfamiliar country wants is unnecessary trouble with local law enforcers. Such things can quickly spiral out of control.
However it is this very nature of the law-abiding expat, plus the difficulty in identifying police officers in some countries, that some unscrupulous fraudsters are using to take advantage of expats. Now the Omani government has warned of an increasing number of imposters posing as police officers in order to defraud expats or to commit other crimes.
Recent situations have involved Omani individuals claiming to be plain-clothed police officers and issuing on-the-spot fines or otherwise demanding compensation. In another shocking incident the “police officers” demanded to see a resident’s work permit at his home, before abducting his wife when he went off the retrieve the paperwork.
The take-home point here is that expats in Oman should take great care in when faced with a police officer, especially when money is discussed in any way. Of course, one won’t want to antagonize a law enforcement officer, but equally one wouldn’t want to fall victim to a criminal impersonating a police officer.
So how should you protect yourself in the kingdom?
The first step is that if you are remotely concerned you should ask to see an officer’s identification. By law all police officers in Oman carry photo ID, showing them in their police uniform, even when working under cover. As a result asking for such identification is entirely reasonable and can do much to ensure the legitimacy of the officer you are dealing with.
Secondly, without a signed warrant, Omani police officers are not permitted to visit private residences. Consequently should a knock on the door reveal a police officer you should request to see not just their photo ID but also a copy of the warrant before permitting them entry. Some authorities even claim that you should use a door chain or peep-hole to check these items, rather than opening your door fully before confirming the legitimacy of the officers in question.
Finally, as a last ditch attempt you might opt to visit the police station with the officers in question. It goes without saying that anyone impersonating a police officer likely won’t be too happy about carrying on the conversation at the station.
Whatever option you choose the message is clear; expats in Oman should take great care at the moment if they are approached by a police officer. Be certain to satisfy yourself that they are who they say they are before handing over any paperwork or money.
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