After showing you last week’s video of a man demonstrating his grand theft auto skills, we at the office couldn’t help but count the many different and ‘creative’ crimes we’ve seen in Malaysia. Which set us off on compiling them here, in a bid to raise a bit of awareness, and potentially keep you out of harm's way for knowing better.
Keep in mind however, that we aren’t talking about driving offences like running a red light, or breaking the legal speed limit - those are of a subject reserved for another story. What we’re on about here are crimes that you should look out for and be wary of as a Malaysian road user.
A lot of these aren’t new tactics, either, but they’re a good reminder of what to look out for to best keep yourself safer on your travels. Keep in mind also that criminals often reinvent their methods too, but while they do that, their intentions never change: to attack the inattentive and take what isn’t theirs, often by any means necessary.
Here’s a quick reminder of the most prominent road crimes in action, starting with:
(Note: Some of these videos may contain graphic content)
Grand Theft Auto:
So, we’ll start this recap with the most recent bit of baddie activity that’s been filmed, and that’s a chap in handcuffs demonstrating his car stealing techniques to what appears to be local police officers. Hands tied, the real-life car thief shows us how he gets into the vehicle, disarms its immobiliser system, starts the engine, and could potentially drive off: all with a special key of his own, and a smart gadget of his. Imagine what he could do with a friend in tow, and his hands freed.
To a thief, it is understood that stealing a car is purely a matter of time. The lesser the time it would take for them to steal a car, the more interested a thief becomes in it.
TIP: Beefing up your car’s alarm system isn’t a bad thing to do, but as demonstrated here, a car thief is well equipped with the know-how to override it. So on top of parking your car in a safe area etc. you should also consider a proper steering lock.
Yes, a steering lock isn’t impenetrable, and given the right amount of time, anyone can hack their way through it and remove the lock. But the sheer time, strength, tools and effort required of a thief to pull this off, often deters them from stealing your car. Unless of course it’s a dodgy steering lock which can be snapped like a twig.
Smash N’ Grab:
The term was largely used from year 2013 and onwards, amidst the nation’s rampant growth of smash n’ grab criminals. The act consists of a motorcyclist, usually with a pillion rider, who would ride up alongside a stationary vehicle, smash the window, grab your valuables (usually left on the passenger seat, in plain sight), and make away with it before you manage to react.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a random act: it’s actually very well planned. If you’ll notice, a good amount of these incidents happen on a series of traffic lights. At the first stop, baddies are usually on the lookout, spying inside cars, assessing potential victims. At one of the subsequent traffic lights is where they’ll typically strike. And it all happens in a matter of seconds, as demonstrated by the video above: smash, grab, run.
TIP: If you haven’t figured it out yet, the trick is to prevent these prying eyes from locking in your valuables: keep them in a safe place (like your car’s boot), out of view, and not openly visible on your front or rear passenger seat.
Various brands offer various layers of protective security tints that can fend off a smash-and-grabber’s attempt to shatter your windscreen. Prices for these security films may be a bit costlier than we’re often comfortable with, but you can’t question their worth when you see what they can do. New cars these days often come with various grades of security film, so remember to check on these when you purchase you next vehicle. If possible, try to negotiate with your car dealership to throw in such a high-grade security film for free.
Petrol Station Prowlers:
You park your car, you search for your cash, you step out of the vehicle to head over to the pump, open the lid, fill the tank – all the while forgetting all that’s happening around you. That’s a common scenario, and is something a snatch thief knows how to take advantage of, all too well.
There are several potential scenarios with how, what we call a ‘petrol station prowler,’ can strike. First common scenario: you park your car at the pumps, stop out, a snatcher rides up on a motorcycle, snatches your valuables, and rides off. Another way: you fill up your tank, get back into your car, forget to lock the doors, the thief chimes in with a blade and forces you to get out of the car, and steals it.
As mentioned, there are several ways for this to happen, but they all include one thing in common: thieves who prey on your vulnerability and lacking attentiveness.
TIP: Again, keep all eyes open for potential baddies on the prowl, and pay attention to your surroundings. Be mindful of suspicious characters hanging around the area, and protect your belongings. Make sure you lock your car doors when you exit the vehicle, and don’t hang around inside with the door wide open or unlocked, either – start your vehicle and drive off. Thieves act very quickly, and will catch you off guard. If you spot something suspicious, remain in your vehicle, and report it to someone who can help.
Road-side Snatch Thief:
We understand that sometimes, going by foot is the only way: because of the short distance, because of the lacking taxis in the area, you name it, we’d understand why you’d have to do it. But that’s all the more reason for you to be more careful on your travels. These snatch thieves are usually opportunist that act on the fly. They may even prowl a known area looking for victims, identify their non-attentive victims, and act faster than you can react, riding up beside you, snatching your items, and making a quick getaway regardless of how they leave you.
TIP: Ideally, try not to give these opportunists the chance to identify you as a victim. If you can, keep your handbags at home when you don’t need it (not always possible with the ladies), and stash away your jewellery from sight or reach. Walking with your handbag facing the sidewalk and not the road helps to keep it slightly more out of reach, and therefore reduces your chances of it being snatched.
Where possible, completely avoid dark, quiet areas when on foot – like we need to keep repeating that. Stay in crowded, highly-visible areas, or better still, walk only where a vehicle cannot approach you.
Armed Gate Crashers:
So you arrive at your home, click a key fob to open your auto-gate system, drive in, get out the car, close the gate. Familiar routine? So familiar to so many, that we forget to be mindful of our surroundings.
At any point in that process, thieves could have broken into your home, and pulled a knife to your neck, demanding the keys to your car, and all the money you have. Hopefully, they bugger off before realising your home is just there, with everything you hold dear to you, inside.
And just because you don’t use an auto-gate system, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Stopping your car just outside your home to unlock the gate gives a car thief an even better chance at a quick getaway with your car, more so if you’ve left your engine running while you do it.
TIP:The only thing you can do to help prevent this is to be more attentive to your surroundings before you stop your vehicle. We know it’s been a long day, but every time you park at home, remember to take note of all that’s around you leading up to your gate. Are there any suspicious characters waiting around and eyeing you? Were you followed home?
If you feel the slightest concern for anything suspicious, don’t continue to park in your driveway. Drive. Head towards a more crowded area, and if the pursuers are still on your tail, drive to a police station. If they remain outside your home, drive away and call for help. Always have your nearest police patrol unit’s mobile number stored in your phone.
This is probably the most heinous road crimes of them all, if you ask us. In all the crimes we’ve listed above, there’s usually a tangible gain to be had by the criminal: your money, your car, something they could use. But acid splashers stand to gain absolutely nothing, but for some sick personal satisfaction of ruining someone’s life.
Thankfully, fewer of these psychotic acts have been reported lately after several cases were reported throughout 2011 and 2013.
TIP: Well, how do you prevent a madman on a motorcycle from splashing liquid on your face, at a completely random occurrences? There’s really no certain way to stop this on your own before it’s too late, but for law enforcement agencies and the police to do what they should beforehand.
Things To Remember:
The trick is to always be aware of your surroundings and to be mindful of the potential dangers around you. Road criminals like the ones we just ran through often travel on motorcycles for their quick/ good manoeuvrability in tight spaces, and they often travel in pairs. We don’t intend to point fingers at all motorcyclists (because we know it can happen from cars too) but that appears to be the trend.
More often than not, criminals are opportunists who prey on your vulnerability and inattentiveness. Many often only start to devise a plan to snatch your handbag once they’ve seen it available to them. So don’t let them get such opportunities to do so. Be alert, be helpful of each other, and
Have you experienced any of these?
If you have, please feel free to share your experience in the comments sections below with others reading this article. Also, share this article with your friends, in the hope that they may never have to endure one of these terrible experiences themselves.