Czech Republic: Neighbors of residential facility claim crime is up, police say otherwise
News server iDNES.cz reported on 28 August that social tensions are rising in the town of Červený Újezd (Teplice district). Local residents are complaining that the owner of a former refugee camp facility is moving in people whom iDNES.cz termed "inadaptable", as well as persons just out of prison.
Mayor Jana Syslová is claiming that crime has risen in the municipality and is asking the police and regional leadership to help. Currently seven Romani families, some of whom have moved to Červený Újezd from the town of Duchcov, are living on the campus of the facility, which is called the "Home on the Hill".
A total of 90 people currently reside there. "There is an intensive influx of the Romani ethnicity there, of socially vulnerable people, and of persons who have just been released from prison. People are complaining of increased harassment of citizens in their dwellings, of increased inappropriate behavior by the residents of the home, and of increased theft and vandalism. The situation is strongly exacerbated and tensions between citizens are escalating," Mayor Syslová warned.
The campus once served as a military barracks; in 1990 it was transformed into a camp for as many as 800 refugees, mainly from countries of the former Soviet Union. The grounds, which are surrounded by a high wall and include four prefabricated apartment buildings and many smaller houses, were put up for sale by the state in 2007.
A firm bought the property for not quite CZK 8 million and last year opened the "Home on the Hill" there for people with chronic illnesses, senior citizens, and the socially vulnerable. Police are now investigating reports that the staff of the home have abused the senior citizens residing there by mistreating and starving them.
The owner of the facility, Pavel Fousek, insists those reports are lies being spread by former employees of the home. When the state sold the campus in 2010, concerns over the potential for such developments were raised at the time. A meeting has been scheduled for 2 September in Červený Újezd between Regional Governor Oldřich Bubeníček, the police, representatives of the Office of the Government, the Labor Office, the nearby municipality of Bílina, and the public health and social welfare departments.
"I caught three gypsies getting ready to steal my neighbor's cement mixer. They had already taken the tarp off. I shouted at them and they ran away. If there had only been one of them, I would have taken a shovel handle to him, but I didn't dare with three, I'm 60 years old," says Miroslav Specián, a resident of the village of Mukov, which is near Červený Újezd.
Specián also claimed to have pushed two Romani woman out of a garden and away from a tent where the children of an acquaintance of his were spending the night. "They said they were lost, but I doubt it, it's pretty overgrown there," he says, adding that suspicious people drive around at night in an old Fabia surveying the terrain.
"One of them visited my neighbor recently. She came out of the shower and there was a gypsy in her house. Fortunately he didn't steal anything and ran away," says another man who is now building a house near the former refugee camp.
People from the municipal authority say locals are acquiring dogs in order to protect their homes and that those who already have one dog are buying another so one can guard their houses while another guards their barns. Even those who have not been directly robbed are worried.
"I wanted to sell my place, but the price has fallen by 70 %. Who's going to give me anything for it?" a man from Červený Újezd asks, throwing his arms up in bewilderment.
Local police insist they have not recorded an increase in crime in the town. Recent incidents on record include the theft of a lawnmower, the theft of three copper cables, and several misdemeanors against civil coexistence.
What is more, those incidents did not involve people who had just moved into the neighborhood, but were conflicts between long-term residents. Locals, however, say they have not reported many incidents of theft.
"As far as I know, theft here is mainly perpetrated by locals from Měrunice," insists "Home on the Hill" owner Fousek. He has labeled Mayor Syslová's remarks racist and xenophobic but does not want to comment further on what has gone on at the facility. "I'm selling the whole camp," he says.
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